The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

"If China attacks Taiwan, it will be on a full moon night in January 2025"


Highlights: Taiwan has never been part of the People's Republic of China, yet Xi Jinping is determined to "reunite" the island with the mainland. Asia expert May-Britt Stumbaum believes: "For Taiwan, it's two minutes to twelve" China is relying on psychological warfare and legal warfare to silence critics through the legal process. The West and Taiwan are moving closer and closer together, but China is achieving the opposite: the West is hardening opinion in the West.

A Taiwanese soldier during an exercise in January 2022. © Ceng Shou Yi/Imago

When will China give the order to attack Taiwan? In an interview, Asia expert May-Britt Stumbaum from the Bundeswehr University gives a gloomy prognosis.

Munich – The People's Republic of China regards democratically governed Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be "reunited" with the mainland by force if necessary. Whether and when head of state Xi Jinping will really give the order to attack remains to be seen. However, Asia expert May-Britt Stumbaum believes: "For Taiwan, it's two minutes to twelve." Stumbaum is Team Lead Asia Pacific Security at the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies (CISS) at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich.

Ms. Stumbaum, is a peaceful solution to the Taiwan conflict possible – or will there inevitably be the use of force, as China's head of state Xi Jinping has threatened?

Taiwan has never been part of the People's Republic of China, yet Xi Jinping is determined to "reunite" the island with the mainland. But this cannot really be peaceful. Opinion polls from Taiwan show that only a tiny minority wants their country to become part of China.

So a military solution after all?

The Chinese will try everything to achieve their goal by non-military means. Because an invasion is never easy, especially not by sea. In addition, China's People's Liberation Army has no combat experience. The last war China waged was decades ago. China is therefore relying on psychological warfare.

What does that look like in concrete terms?

Firstly, there are attempts to intimidate the Taiwanese: China is holding military exercises near Taiwan, and dozens of fighter jets are entering Taiwan's air defense zone every day. And the very threat of invading Taiwan has some effect on foreign investment in Taiwan. The second is opinion warfare, through disinformation campaigns, narrative formation and election interference. And thirdly, China is trying legal warfare: it wants to silence critics through the legal process and interpret international law in such a way that it can enforce its goals. For example, China claims that the Taiwan Strait is not an international body of water, but Chinese territorial waters.

Conflict with China: "The next two years are crucial for Taiwan"

At the moment, however, China is achieving the opposite: the West and Taiwan are moving closer and closer together.

Yes, with its threats to Taiwan, China is hardening opinion in the West. But the West is only a small part of the world. In the Global South, on the other hand, the propaganda of the Chinese is catching on. It's like the Ukraine war: two-thirds of the world say it's not their war – or they're even openly pro-Russian.


Also Read

War reporter talks about "the most unbelievable" thing he's ever seen


Bunker stunt between Klitschko and Zelensky: President threatens with "knockout"


Russian field commander denies reports of success from Moscow


Russia's elite trembles: drone attack on Putin's residence


Modern battle tanks from the West meet Putin's defensive wall


Fancy a voyage of discovery?

My Area

Should the conflict really escalate, however, the response of the US and its allies would be decisive.

That's why it's good that President Joe Biden keeps emphasizing that the US would intervene in the conflict. But let's look at Japan, for example: last year, a war simulation was carried out, with the result that it would take Japan two months to find out whether it should be allowed to intervene at all in the event of a conflict before its constitutional court. Taiwan itself is also not really prepared. Taipei has recently increased the duration of conscription from four to twelve months. That's good, but it's very late.

Has the Taiwan conflict been ignored for too long?

The great danger is that they overlook how China creates facts without waging war. Taiwan has been threatened by China for a long time, actually since 1949. But for a long time, this danger was very abstract. Now that is changing because China is becoming stronger economically and militarily. That's what makes the near future so dicey. Xi Jinping will not wait for the West to organize.

So it's five to twelve for Taiwan?

It's two to twelve. The next two years are crucial.

Taiwan invasion: "All China needs is a full moon night and good weather"


Next year, Taiwan will elect a successor to President Tsai Ing-wen, who will not be allowed to run again. William Lai, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, is even more vehemently in favor of independence from China than Tsai. China will therefore try to support the oppositional Kuomintang (KMT), which tends to be more pro-Beijing. This can already be seen: Recently, a high-ranking KMT politician met with top politicians in Beijing, and former Taiwanese President Ma – who is also from the KMT – traveled to China. In addition, China will try to influence the election through disinformation campaigns and other manipulations.

And if the Progressive Party wins?

Then Xi will try to create facts. China will continue to intensify its attempts at intimidation until the Taiwanese finally say: Better to put ourselves under the control of Beijing than to risk war. At the same time, attempts are being made to erode the Taiwanese system from within – through false reports, through infiltration and so on.

Next year, the United States will also elect a new president ...

Exactly. And this is the decisive factor. The change of power in the US, if there is one, will take place in early 2025. In recent years, we have seen time and again that the United States is often hardly able to act in such a case for months. Many top people leave months before the handover of office, top positions in the administration and ambassadorial posts remain vacant for a long time. The U.S. may be very weakened in early 2025, and Xi Jinping will take advantage of that.

How exactly?

If China does decide to attack Taiwan militarily, then January offers a suitable window of opportunity for an invasion, and not only because of the aftermath of the US election. The Taiwan Strait is best crossed in the winter months, when the sea is calmer. In addition, the 2025 Chinese New Year will take place in January. Then hundreds of millions of people travel all over the country, so that large troop deployments would hardly be visible from the satellite. All China needs is a full moon night and good weather.

What would such an invasion look like in concrete terms?

If the Chinese come, then in large numbers. Initially, they will try to capture strategic locations, especially the seat of government and the control centers for critical infrastructure. And from there, the rest of the country.

"The U.S. wants to prevent a second Pearl Harbor"

Wouldn't Western intelligence agencies notice the preparations for an invasion long in advance? Even before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Putin had been massing his troops in the border area for months.

What Putin did in Ukraine, China is already doing in Taiwan. China regularly launches cyber attacks on Taiwan, aircraft enter the air defense zone, and a few days ago a Chinese drone flew around Taiwan for the second time. The exercises that China has held since Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan are also part of long-term planning. The visit itself was just a pretext; After all, you can't do such exercises in the short term. In addition, China has already stored a lot of ammunition near Taiwan.

There are war scenes that say that China would have to cope with high losses in the event of an attack.

China would accept a very high death toll. Even if you would lose a lot of soldiers, China is used to making great sacrifices. When Beijing lifted the corona measures, an estimated 1.6 million people died within four weeks. The economic consequences of a Taiwan invasion would also be enormous. The U.S. expects China's GDP to collapse by nine percent due to sanctions. But even that would be accepted.

Do you think that in the event of an attack, the US would actually intervene militarily, as Joe Biden has announced?

Taiwan has an extremely important strategic position for Beijing. China's submarines are currently off the island of Hainan and thus in very shallow waters. All around are US allies: Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, which want to work more closely with America again, and Taiwan. Any submarine that leaves China can therefore be detected by the United States. On the east side of Taiwan, on the other hand, it goes directly into the deep sea. If China were to control Taiwan, Chinese submarines could dive from there undetected – and only come back to the surface off San Francisco.

A horror scenario for the USA.

Exactly. And that's why the Americans would intervene. They want to prevent a second Pearl Harbor. It is in the best strategic interest of the Americans that Taiwan does not fall into the hands of the People's Republic of China.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-06-05

You may like

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-09-24T15:11:40.701Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.