Can China take Taiwan back by force?

Yurii Poita, head of the Asia-Pacific section of the NGRN, took part in a podcast on Radio NV (in Russian) dedicated to China’s policy towards Taiwan. The main question that was discussed is whether Beijing is ready for the forceful return of control over Taiwan, taking into account the bellicose rhetoric of the head of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

Key points:

  1. Restoring control over Taiwan is a priority in the strategic documents of the PRC and in the discourse of the top military-political leadership.
    According to the documents, this is the number one task for the Chinese nation. For example, according to the Constitution, Taiwan is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. The great task of uniting the fatherland is the indestructible duty of the entire Chinese people, including compatriots living in Taiwan.
    In the White Paper, China’s National Defense, the main direct threat to China is the independence of Taiwan, and in the current edition, the issue of “the situation in the Taiwan Strait” is much more relevant.
  2. In the rhetoric of the top political leadership, the return of Taiwan is a major challenge. For example, in Xi Jinping’s speech on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, resolving the Taiwan issue and fully reuniting the homeland is a historic task that the Chinese Communist Party invariably strives to accomplish, and is the common aspirations of all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation.
  3. If we analyze China’s actions in this direction, then at the moment there is a planned preparation for establishing control over the island (the activities of special services in the Taiwan direction are intensified, the PLA is preparing for a possible operation, the greatest resources are allocated to strengthen the Eastern Fleet of the PLA Navy, which is intended for actions in the Taiwan direction, conducting exercises of the PLA in the Taiwan Strait and nearby, etc.).
  4. However, with regard to the readiness to take active steps to restore control over Taiwan, it is too early to talk about it. Despite all these efforts by China, reunification with Taiwan is more an internal rhetoric than an internal one. Because at the moment the conditions in the world are the most favorable for China and ensure stable GDP growth, expansion of markets, and an increase in influence. The violent seizure of Taiwan will turn the world community sharply against China, and this will create problems for China, will contribute to the formation of an anti-Chinese front, and will force the United States and allies to intervene. The threat of the sea grouping of the US allies for China is still too great. According to the Chinese plans, China will be ready for military superiority in the region by 2035, in the world – no earlier than 2049 (on the second centenary – 100 years of the founding of the CPC).
  5. Until that time, China will strengthen economic ties with Taiwan, continue the work of special services and build military capabilities for a possible military operation. In the international community, China will try to reduce support for Taiwan, and increase the economic, technological, and financial dependence of other countries on China. This will increase pressure on Taipei and create a favorable environment for a possible military or so-called gray zone operation. It is impossible to say when this will happen, but the conditions for gaining control over Taiwan will be created.

Discussion is available here.

Yurii Poita

Head of the Asian Section

He has been working as a Head of the Asia-Pacific Section at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine). Yurii also is a sinologist and member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

He studied at the Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv International University, the Wuhan Research Institute of Postal and Telecommunications (China), Zhytomyr Military Institute (Ukraine). At the moment Yurii is a PhD candidate at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University.

He has experience in defense, international journalism, analytics and research.

Research interests: China’s influence in the post-Soviet space, “hybrid” threats to national security, Ukrainian-Chinese relations, the development of the situation in the Asia-Pacific and the Central Asian region.

He took part in a number of expert and scientific discussions in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, China and other countries. He has participated in research projects on the consequences of educational migration to China, interethnic conflicts and the protest potential of Kazakhstan, creation of a new Asian strategy of the MFA of Ukraine, study of Ukraine’s relations with the countries of Central and East Asia.

Speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and Chinese.

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August 2021
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