ANALYSIS-Fearing war in Xi’s next term, Taiwan beefs up defenses

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Taiwan is strengthening its defenses and bracing for the possibility of war with China as leader Xi Jinping prepares to assume a third term in power and attempts to achieve what no predecessor did by taking control of the island.

Xi has made no secret of his desire to make democratically ruled Taiwan part of the People’s Republic of China – peacefully if possible but forcefully if necessary – to cement his legacy in the history books. China’s war games near Taiwan in August pushed tensions to their highest level in decades, reigniting fears of conflict that had swirled since the defeated Republic of China government fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war against Mao Zedong’s communists.

President Tsai Ing-wen, in her National Day speech on Monday, said war was ‘absolutely not an option’, which a source familiar with her thoughts said was partly aimed at the Party Congress Communist Party in China, which opens on Sunday. She also described steps to strengthen the military, including the mass production of precision missiles and warships.

“Through our actions, we send a message to the international community that Taiwan will take responsibility for its own defense, that we will leave nothing to fate,” she added. Xi is widely expected to win his third term at the party congress that takes place every five years.

As Taiwan lives with the threat of a Chinese invasion for more than seven decades and there are no signs of public panic over Beijing’s warmongering, government officials are alarmed and offer a harsh analysis privately. “Now we should let go of our illusions and prepare to fight. We really have to be ready to fight,” said a Taiwanese source familiar with the government’s China policy, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss intelligence assessments with the media. .

PRECISION WEAPONS Tsai has made modernizing the armed forces a priority, to develop what she this week called “comprehensive asymmetric warfare capabilities” with small, highly mobile precision weapons such as anti-ship missiles that can be launched from the back of a truck and brought to safety after firing.

Xi showed he had abandoned late reformist leader Deng Xiaoping’s maxim of “hiding your strength and biding your time”, said Lin Fei-fan, deputy general secretary of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. Xi was trying to push China’s global influence and achieve goals not achieved by his predecessors, including bringing Hong Kong to heel, Lin told Reuters at the party headquarters in downtown Taipei.

“When we talk about achievement, for Taiwan, it’s definitely not a good sign, it’s not a good thing,” Lin said. “I believe that in the next five years, cross-strait relations will be more intense, they will be more unstable, and the tensions across the Taiwan Strait will escalate to a different level.”

Any war could devastate the global economy, given Taiwan’s key role as a semiconductor producer, and potentially embroil the United States, whose President Joe Biden last month pledged to defend Taiwan in the event. of any “unprecedented attack” by China. A senior Taiwanese security official said Xi’s third term would bring “unpredictable tensions” across the strait.

“We won’t be provocative. We won’t let him use that as an excuse.” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, he reiterated his promise to achieve peaceful “reunification” under the “one country, two systems” autonomy model used for Hong Kong, although this was widely rejected in Taiwan. In one aspect of Taiwan, Xi has already made history by meeting then-Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore in 2015, the first such meeting since the Republic of China government fled to Singapore. Taiwan in 1949.

But China has refused to speak to her successor, Tsai, since she was first elected in 2016, viewing her as a separatist. Tsai has repeatedly proposed talks on the basis of equality and mutual respect. China has not offered a timetable for ‘solving the Taiwan problem’ as Chinese officials call it, but Xi said during his first year as president in 2013 that a political solution could not wait eternally.

Huang Kwei-bo, an associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei, who was part of Ma’s delegation to the Singapore summit, said Xi would likely want to bring Taiwan under his control as soon as possible. “Because the later the two sides unify, the more Beijing will pay for national unification,” he told Reuters. “Xi Jinping, I think, in his mind, the sooner the better.”

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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