After the invasion of Ukraine, is Taiwan next?

AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File

With the invasion of Ukraine taking place today some observers are watching closely to see how China reacts to the news. So far, they appear to be trying to walk a narrow line, not quite endorsing Russia’s actions but also not criticizing their ally, even implicitly. For instance, today a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson refused to use the word “invasion” to describe what’s happening.


China’s assistant foreign minister, Hua Chunying, was asked by reporters several times whether she would call Russia’s attacks an invasion but she repeatedly avoided giving a yes or no answer.

In response to one reporter, Hua appeared to express frustration at the question and said, “The U.S. has been fueling the flame, fanning up the flame, how do they want to put out the fire?”

In an attempt to differentiate the Taiwan situation from what’s happening in Ukraine, Hua Chunying also said, “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact.” But that’s actually not so different from what Putin said about Ukraine a couple of days ago, i.e. that it was “madness” Ukraine was allowed to leave the USSR without any “terms and conditions.”

KXAN spoke to two University of Texas professor who say China is likely taking notes on how the world responds to Russia’s actions.

Dr. Patrick McDonald and Dr. Robert Moser, government professors at UT, say what Russia’s doing right now is challenging the foundation of international legal practices and forcing the United States to define its role in international affairs after the Cold War.

That’s something China is going to take cues from.

“China — in particular, as a rising power — is going to also use its power to increase its influence in its region, and perhaps use force if necessary, to incorporate neighboring countries right now, like Taiwan, into its fold,” Moser said.


Over at the Atlantic, Michael Schuman suggests, despite today’s news, China is still the greater threat to world order.

Putin’s invasion marks a new stage, heralds a new era—one of authoritarian aggression.

No country, though, is as big a threat to the liberal world order as China. Russia, in many respects, is a declining power, lacking the economic dynamism to sustain its political punch. The assault on Ukraine may be Putin getting what he wants while he still can. The story is different with China—a power with increasing economic, diplomatic, and military might. Russia is in the headlines today, but China will be the spearhead of the authoritarian cause. President Xi Jinping’s nationalist fervor, commitment to the restoration of Chinese power, and more aggressive approach compared with his predecessors when it comes to territorial and maritime disputes, relations with the U.S. and its allies, as well as the international system writ large, have already become a destabilizing force in Asia.

Taiwan is on this tenuous front line. Just as Putin can’t tolerate Ukrainian sovereignty, the Chinese Communist Party will never accept the separateness of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a core part of China occupied by an illegitimate (and by the way, democratic) government. Gaining control over Taiwan, or as the party prefers to call it, “reunification,” is a primary goal of Chinese foreign policy.


Despite the certainty that it will happen, Schuman says it may the danger is imminent. For one thing, rolling columns of tanks across the land border is a lot easier to do than brining them across 80 miles of ocean. An operation like that would require a long build up and a lot of equipment China doesn’t currently have. What does seem certain about the present is that China “will be watching to see how much pain and cost the U.S. and its allies can and will inflict on Russia.”

If the world’s collective outrage doesn’t amount to much in this case, China will certainly factor that in to their timetable. If, on the other hand, Russia pays a heavy and long-lasting price for the invasion, that would also send a clear message.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos