The Financial Times quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that the Biden administration assesses Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s eagerness to take Taiwan. The official said that China’s recent moves reflect Xi Jinping’s “big hand in shaping his own historical image and positioning,” with some Taiwanese officials saying that the Communist Party may be Xi Jinping’s re-election as president in 2022 or the PLA’s centennial attack on Taiwan in 2027.
The official told the Financial Times that “China’s attitude toward Taiwan seems to be moving from a stage where it is satisfied with maintaining the status quo to a position where it is more agitated and inclined to test Taiwan’s bottom line and intends to make further big moves to attack Taiwan to implement ‘reunification'”. The official added that Washington is preparing to enter Xi Jinping’s third term, which is worrying because Xi sees the progress of Taiwan acquisition as an important indicator of his personal legitimacy and performance in power, and “Xi appears to be ready to take greater risks.
Taiwan and the United States signed a memorandum of cooperation on maritime patrol last Friday (26), and on the same day China sent 20 PLA planes to disturb Taiwan.
The Financial Times reported that the Biden Administration‘s growing unease with China coincided with a warning issued by current Indo-Pacific commander Philip Davidson at a Senate hearing recently. Davidson said earlier that China’s People’s Liberation Army may attack Taiwan “within the next six years”.
John Aquilino, who will soon take over as the U.S. Army’s Indo-Pacific commander, told members of the U.S. Senate that a Chinese attack on Taiwan is more imminent than many people understand. Aquilino said China’s aggressive actions on the India-China border conflict show signs of increasing recklessness. Aquilino told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “What we’re seeing is something we didn’t anticipate.” He said Washington needs to be prepared.
Kurt Campbell, U.S. Indo-Pacific Affairs Officer, believes China’s actions in different areas are provocative, with the strongest attitude toward Taiwan. China’s actions in the South China Sea, its economic pressure on Australia, its “wolf diplomacy” with Europe, and its border conflict with India are all signs that China is showing strength in the world.
Taiwan’s national security officials have expressed concern that Xi Jinping will launch an offensive against Taiwan at two times: in 2022, when he will be confirmed as entering his third term in office, the 20th Communist Party Congress, and in 2027, when the PLA will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Washington is concerned about the CCP’s actions against Taiwan, but senior Taiwanese officials believe that China is currently only putting further military pressure on Taiwan and shows no signs of an immediate attack.