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China has its sights set on Taiwan, stopping it may be up to the Biden administration

China’s takeover of Hong Kong has been a success as far as the CCP is concerned. The crackdown on protesters has put an end to protests and the demand that local elected officials be “patriotic” means there will be no real elections in the future. Considering how little price the CCP has paid for all of this, they are certainly thinking about the next island on their target list: Taiwan. Last week, a U.S. admiral warned that Taiwan was clearly on the agenda for China and that it could make a move much sooner than expected.

“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions. … And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years,” Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

Davidson also said China could overtake the United States’ hegemony in global affairs and assume a world leadership role by 2050.

“I worry that they’re [China] accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order,” he added.

Most of the next six years are going to be on Biden’s watch. Maybe that’s why China came out of the gate with the new Biden administration by testing on this particular point. During Biden’s first week China sent bombers and fighters into Taiwan’s air defense zone. A few days later a military spokesman warned that for Taiwan “Independence means war.”

At this point, it seems China is just waiting for the right excuse to move in. And that could be any number of things, including what China deems to be U.S. provocation:

“If we interject ourselves, we are the reagent catalyst that will make this problem hotter,” said one senior defense official, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss sensitive operational planning. “Militarily we know that if we do too much, push too hard, China will use that optic and they will do more against Taiwan.”

Another possible excuse for an invasion could come from Taiwan itself, which is increasingly vocal about not wanting to be controlled by the CCP.

Meanwhile, officials are increasingly concerned that Taipei may force Beijing into action by unilaterally declaring its independence, particularly after Taiwan’s president was reelected in a landslide last year. Polling data consistently shows the Taiwanese people want a separate identity that is not Chinese, the second official said.

Another excuse for an invasion could come in the form of humanitarian aid.

Short of an invasion, military officials are also concerned that China could effectively occupy Taiwan under the pretext of offering humanitarian aid.

“The nightmare scenario is a typhoon goes through Taiwan,” the first official said. Beijing then moves in “under good pretenses to help out, and never leaves.”

The good news is that so far the Biden administration hasn’t been backing down. China’s flights of military jets was met with the U.S. Navy cruising through the Taiwan strait. And on the diplomatic front, Sec. Blinken referred to Taiwan last week as a “country.” That may not sound like much but it flies completely in the face of the Chinese insistence that Taiwan is merely a part of China:

Blinken was responding to California Republican Representative Young Kim, who called on the US to include Taiwan in the upcoming Democracy Summit.

“I share your view that Taiwan is a strong democracy, a very strong technological power, and a country that can contribute to the world, not just to its own people. COVID is a very good example of that,” Sputnik quoted Blinken as saying.

Again, my own sense of this is that China learned a lot of lessons from its takeover of Hong Kong. It wasn’t necessary to send tanks or ships, just pass laws on the mainland to regulate speech and elections under the theory that Hong Kong was never independent anyway. Then once those are in place you can “legally” disappear anyone not in line with CCP thinking.

I think something like this kind of soft-coup is coming much sooner than people think. It’s possible China is just waiting on the right moment when the U.S. is distracted with something else, just as we were last year with the pandemic. That something else could even be the brewing crisis at our own border. If things get significantly worse this summer, which seems likely, and that issue sucks up all the media oxygen, China could decide to take advantage of the moment we take our eye off the ball.