By J.M. Phelps
The Chinese regime is learning from the Russia–Ukraine conflict and what it’s currently witnessing may embolden Beijing ambitions in relation to Taiwan, analysts say.
As Russia advances through Ukraine, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is cataloging “all information from the invasion” as part of their plan to invade Taiwan sooner than later, according to Col. Dan Steiner (USAF-Ret.). Stephen Bryen, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank, agreed. He told The Epoch Times that as Russia invades Ukraine, it has to be “very tempting” for the Chinese regime to want to make a move on Taiwan, the self-ruled island it claims as its own.
While amassing troops in Europe and providing aid to Ukraine, Bryen also said, “the United States needs to be stepping up deployments to the Pacific to make it clear that we’re not asleep in the region as a battle for Ukraine ensues.”
On Feb. 22, former President Donald Trump warned that the Chinese regime will invade Taiwan after seeing Russian troops advance into Ukraine. In a Feb. 26 interview with Fox News, Republican Rep. Scott Perry echoed Trump’s words, expressing similar concern about the CCP becoming emboldened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Perry said it is “not too late” for the Biden administration to “show some strength” in the Pacific.
According to Bryen, the United States is clearly preoccupied with Europe, sending forces to Germany, Poland, and Romania. As a result, he said the Chinese regime could perceive this U.S. preoccupation as an opportunity to operate more freely in the Pacific.
Analyzing America’s Actions
The Chinese regime is watching closely Washington’s actions in response to Russia’s aggression, the analysts said.
“The CCP is always analyzing Washington’s decisions and attempting to anticipate what Washington might do next, because the only thing that the Chinese regime is afraid of is the United States,” Bryen said.
Steiner pointed out that “the Chinese regime is remaining relatively quiet throughout the Russian invasion.” He said the regime is “passively supportive” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And the reason the regime is supportive, he said, is because the invasion creates an opportunity for the CCP to tell the rest of Asia to “pay attention to what’s going on in Europe.”
“The invasion of Ukraine can be used to make the Taiwanese people question the resolve of the United States to come to their rescue, Steiner said. “They’ll also point out to all of Asia that the United States has no historical ties to region, like it does Europe, and this kind of campaign will probably prove to be fairly effective.”
“Ultimately,” Steiner said, “the Chinese regime is putting themselves in a position to be able to ask other countries in the region, who are you going to hook your wagon to for the rest of the 21st century—the United States or us?”
The goal is to cast doubt on whether the United States would come to the aid of Taiwan. “The CCP is telling the Chinese people to choose wisely, because right now, the United States is appearing impotent in Europe,” Steiner said.
“That’s a very powerful and strategic message, adding to a thought process that is already out there … that the United States is not going to go to war with China over Taiwan.”
Testing and Messaging
The Chinese regime will keep testing the resolve of Taiwan and the United States, according to both experts. In recent weeks, the regime has continued harassing the small East Asian island by sending military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
“By continuing to fly military aircraft and conducting military exercises during the Russian invasion,” Bryen said, “China is testing Taiwan and the U.S—jacking up the threat.”
As Taiwan’s greatest ally, he said, “the United States needs to be more forceful with the CCP, making it clearer than ever that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and disturbing the balance of forces in the Pacific.”
According to Steiner, the ability to deter the CCP is going to take more than the implementation of sanctions, such as the ones being enacted on Russia. Part of Beijing’s long-term preparation for a conflict with the United States will include the means to prepare for and counter such sanctions. “So, one day, when the U.S. announces tremendous sanctions against the Chinese regime, it’ll be too late—as it may be too late in the current Russia-Ukraine crisis.”
“If we’re going to message China, the messaging needs to start now,” Steiner said.
According to Bryen, a good start would include strengthening the United State’s naval posture in the Pacific “to act as a deterrent to any move by the Chinese regime could be considering.”
What’s more, he said, “this show of strength needs to come across to the American public, because the nation is full of defeatist rhetoric coming out of the Pentagon and various think tanks.”
To conclude that the Chinese regime would win any conflict in the Pacific is “total nonsense,” according to Bryen. “Drawing this conclusion solely from war games and other synthetic processes is a very serious problem, because it adds to the attitude of defeatism coming out of the Pentagon and decision-making level of Washington.”
“It’s very corrosive and very bad, and it must be cured,” said Bryen.
He considers it “very dangerous, because the more the United States looks weak and irresolute, the more likely the Chinese regime will be encouraged to do something they shouldn’t do.”
Both experts indicated that the United States will soon witness the CCP getting more aggressive. And if nothing is done to counter the Chinese regime’s actions, Bryen said, “Taiwan, the United States, and their allies will find themselves in deep trouble much sooner than later.”