Many experts believe Vladimir Putin’s unhinged war could embolden Beijing’s desire to forcibly claim Taiwan.
No, there isn’t a direct link between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s nefarious aims in Taiwan, but the Ukraine conflict is the latest indication that autocrats are back on the march.
Concomitant with the Soviet Union’s disintegration three decades ago, dictators around the globe were on the run — from Latin America, the Middle East, and Myanmar, to the Philippines, South Korea, and Eastern Europe.
The Chinese Communist Party existed but also immersed themselves in newly-created free trade and international institutions.
Putin’s cataclysmic efforts in Ukraine expose how wrong the naïve “End of History” belief after the Cold War was. While I wholeheartedly endorse the ascendancy of Western democracies, the 1990s were indeed a holiday from history. John Kerry’s historical ignorance aside, wars of imperialism are not relegated to yesteryear.
Freedom is not inevitable and is not the natural political condition; it is an incredible exception to human history.
And the freedom consensus is currently evaporating across the globe.
Recep Erdoğan’s Islamism has assaulted norms in Turkey; authoritarians have reclaimed control in Myanmar; Venezuela’s socialist government is taking a page from Communist Cuba by destroying its once-rich nation; populist Rodrigo Duterte is leading a violent regime in the Philippines; and Moscow’s unprovoked invasion opens a new chapter of radical aggression.
One saving grace is that Russia lacks the economic strength to sustain its political power. But while Putin’s desperate assault drags his nation into the abyss, China increases its economic and military might. And no country is a graver threat to the world than China, which has 10 times the population of Russia.
President Xi Jinping’s commitment to the restoration of Chinese power, aggressive approach to territorial expansion, and inferior relations with the U.S. and its allies have destabilized much of Asia.
Taiwan, 100 miles southeast of Chinese soil, is on the front line. Just as Putin can’t tolerate Ukrainian sovereignty, Beijing won’t accept Taiwan’s independence.
Xi is already trying to intimidate Taipei with aerial harassments of the island, while Beijing’s suppression of pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong undermines aspirations that Taiwan could retain its freedom if the ChiComs annexed it.
In the aftermath of Putin’s war, Xi probably won’t immediately amass an invasion force on the strait between Taiwan and the Chinese coast. With time and money on his side, this dictator need not follow Putin’s ignoble path.
But Putin’s military aggression is a sign that totalitarian powers believe now is their chance to reshape the world, especially since neo-isolationism and political divisions are rising in America, which raise doubts about our resolve.
As rogue actors deem American decline inevitable, China may decide the U.S. won’t fight their world order.
The last week, however — Ukraine’s unlikely resistance and pursuit of autarky — proves nothing is inevitable. Xi is undoubtedly watching to see how much pushback the world will inflict on Russia.
Outside of the puppet government in Belarus, Xi is the last ally of Putin. Seeing the world’s current reaction could give Xi second thoughts about trying something extreme with Taiwan.
It is my view that the U.S. government should immediately take necessary, and long-overdue, steps to do the right and obvious thing, that is to offer the Republic of China (Taiwan) America’s diplomatic recognition as a free and sovereign country.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) March 4, 2022
“The chance China attacks Taiwan is slim,” a Taiwan native living in Texas told Alpha News. “First of all, the Taiwan Strait prevents land attacks. Second, Taiwan has many counter missiles. Third, China might take a wait-and-see approach on Russia due to all these economic sanctions; if they’re way too severe, that might be a deterrent for China.”
Regardless, like Ukraine, Taiwan needs our assistance — and history proves the sooner the better.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.