While the world watches Russian invasion of Ukraine and the swift impact of western sanctions on Moscow’s economy, Chinese president Xi Jinping is worried about a different matter of geostrategic importance: The Taiwan Question. Days after Russia President Vladimir Putin announced ‘special military operations’ in Ukraine, Chinese Ministry of External Affairs asserted that China was committed to “resolving the Taiwan question”. The matter was reportedly raised with far too more concern by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his two-hour long call with President Joe Biden of the United States on Friday.
Biden-Jinping call: US focuses on Ukraine, China dwells on Taiwan’s fate
The White House said that the focus of the two-hour call between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping was about situation in Ukraine and ongoing Russian assault. However, while the official statement from the Chinese government did mention the discussions on situation in Ukraine, it dwelled more on the fate of Taiwan.
According to Chinese government’s statement, Xi Jinping told Joe Biden that some people in the United States “were sending the wrong signal” by supporting Taiwan’s independence. “Mishandling of the Taiwan question will have a disruptive impact on bilateral ties,” Xi Jinping reportedly told US president Joe Biden. Jinping also vaguely blamed the US for the situation in Ukraine and said that the “crux of Ukraine crisis” should be addressed.
He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off,” Jinping is reported to have told Joe Biden.
China has laid claim to Taiwan since the island split off from the mainland in 1949 and has asserted multiple times the autonomous island as its own under ‘One China Policy’.
What if China ‘invades’ Taiwan?
Taiwan is recognised as a sovereign country by just 15 countries worldwide. It is not recognised as a sovereign country by all G-20 nations, raising questions about whether China’s supposed attack can be considered an invasion in international realpolitik at all.
Moreover, the global reaction to Russian invasion of Ukraine is continuously displaying the limits of how far the US-led NATO is willing to go when an invasion takes place. Furthermore, the diversified Chinese economy provides the cushioning effect any possible sanctions could incur on the country.
In context of the Taiwan question, the return of USSR-USA like power politics with China replacing the USSR, could depend on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, and whether it drops the dividends in Russian favour or not.