Thomas Gallatin / November 11, 2021

China Eyes Taiwan Because of Its Own Domestic Issues

Nothing overcomes internal division and raises nationalist sentiments like a war.

Concerns that China is actively working toward attacking Taiwan with the aim of seizing the island nation are growing. One of the reasons is less China than Taiwan. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Soldiers, strategists and government officials in Taiwan and the U.S. say the island’s military is riven with internal problems, many of which have built up over years of calm and economic prosperity and now are eating away at Taiwan’s ability to deter China.”

We have repeatedly observed that Beijing has been progressively ratcheting up the pressure with intentionally provocative actions, such as flying multiple fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace. Even more concerning is recent tests of hypersonic missiles. Furthermore, Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping has made it clear that he sees Taiwan as a rogue territory that belongs to China and will eventual be brought to heel. If any question Beijing’s intentions, let the crackdown on Hong Kong dispel any doubts.

But why is China doing this now? Still recovering from the global pandemic it unleashed onto the world, wouldn’t the prudent course of action be to avoid anything that could provoke world anger?

Well, the answer to those questions may have more to do with what’s going on inside China than what’s happening outside the communist country. Domestically, China is struggling with an economic downturn, supply chain issues, and food supply concerns, much of it thanks to COVID. And that all likely has to do with Beijing’s growing aggression toward Taiwan. China is at its most dangerous when it’s in domestic upheaval, as nothing solves division or takes the public’s mind off of domestic strife like a nationalistic cause and unifying event like war.

Beijing may be calculating that right now is the best opportunity to quickly strike and take Taiwan. Any war is a gamble, but with Joe Biden occupying the White House, the prospect grows of a muted and rather feckless response from a president who’s popularity domestically is hitting record lows. It might be the best opportunity the ChiComs have had in years. With Biden already surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban, it seems unlikely he would move to get America involved in another war.

Finally, China certainly doesn’t want to risk missing its opportunity to take Taiwan only to see the U.S. elect Donald Trump in 2024 or a Trump-like Republican who wouldn’t bat an eye at stepping up to confront Beijing and protect Taiwan.

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