One of my first reactions to the fall of Kabul over the weekend was concern about what this would communicate to our other allies and enemies. It’s hard to look at our abandonment of allies in Afghanistan and not conclude this is bad news for a place like Taiwan which is dependent on the US for its continued freedom. As you’re probably aware, China’s Xi Jinping has recently vowed to reunify Taiwan by any means necessary. “Solving the Taiwan question and realising the complete reunification of the motherland are the unswerving historical tasks of the Chinese Communist Party and the common aspiration of all Chinese people,” Xi said.
So with that in mind it’s not surprising that Chinese state media is already capitalizing on the bumbled withdrawal in Afghanistan. This was published by the Global Times today:
How Washington abandoned the Kabul regime particularly shocked some in Asia, including the island of Taiwan. Taiwan is the region that relies on the protection of the US the most in Asia, and the island’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have made Taiwan go further and further down this abnormal path. The situation in Afghanistan suddenly saw a radical change after the country was abandoned by the US. And Washington just left despite the worsening situation in Kabul. Is this some kind of omen of Taiwan’s future fate?
Tsai Ing-wen, who had sent a message of condolence to the US president for the death of his dog, did not mention even a word about the change in the situation in Afghanistan. Other DPP politicians as well as the media that tilt toward the DPP downplayed the shocking change as well. But they must have been nervous and feel an ominous presentiment. They must have known better in secret that the US is not reliable.
And then we get to this paragraph which talks about a cross-Straits war as if it’s inevitable:
Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere…
The DPP authorities need to keep a sober head, and the secessionist forces should reserve the ability to wake up from their dreams. From what happened in Afghanistan, they should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help. As a result, the DPP authorities will quickly surrender, while some high-level officials may flee by plane.
The Global Times also published another piece making the same point:
“Yesterday’s Saigon, today’s Afghanistan, and tomorrow’s Taiwan?” read some online posts by internet users in the island of Taiwan, implying that the so-called alliance that Taiwan has forged with the US is nothing but an empty promise that will eventually “leave the Taiwan people hurting alone.”…
“Those who have a clear mind should understand that Taiwan residents can’t rely on the US. However, given the ideology-driven influence, some observers may see the situation in the island as being different from that in Afghanistan, but there’s one thing in common – America’s empty promise,” Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.
Look, I understand that the purpose of state media is to publish propaganda. In one sense, that’s all this is. It doesn’t necessarily mean China is planning an invasion any time soon.
On the other hand, this type of propaganda is exactly the sort of thing you’d say if you were looking to kill the fighting spirit of your enemy. If the CCP is telling its media outlets to show the US this kind of open disrespect in public, what might they be saying about the reality of “reunification” with Taiwan in private? I don’t know but it’s not hard to imagine.