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China vs Taiwan: Officials to meet at top security conference – will Beijing invade?

Taiwanese Radio Enthusiast compares Chinese warplanes to flies

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has raised fears of a similar incursion being launched in the South China Sea. Taiwan has continually reaffirmed itself as an independent state. But China and its President, Xi Jinping, have disputed this and its claim to the island territory. The issue could come up when officials from around the world meet in Singapore this weekend for a key security conference.

Among the attendees at the conference will be the defence ministers for both China and the US.

The latter has publicly thrown its support behind Taiwanese independence, and stepped up its level of engagement with the island nation in recent months.

But when delegations meet in Singapore it’s thought to be unlikely that either country will be outspoken on the issue, to prevent escalating tensions any further.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, US officials had predicted that Beijing would launch an invasion of Taiwan within the next six to 10 years.

Taiwan has regularly accused China of flying military jets into its airspace, including last month when it said 30 warplanes entered the Taiwanese air defence zone.

Publicly China has repeatedly called for “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but it also threatened to seize the island by force if necessary.

The ongoing war in Ukraine could act as a warning to President Xi of the repercussions any invasion might come with.

Russia has been hit with a raft of sanctions from the West and its allies, crippling the economy in Moscow.

China’s economic model is widely dependent on selling goods to rich markets, such as the US, Europe and Japan.

If these trade routes were to be shut it could create significant financial havoc for Beijing.

But as China’s supply chains are far more consequential for the West, it remains to be seen whether it would be as quick to impose sanctions.

Ukraine has claimed to have dealt around 26,000 Russian casualties since the invasion began on February 24 – something that the Kremlin denies.

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Though China has significantly greater military resources to call upon, an invasion of Taiwan would likely not be straight forward.

Any amphibious assault could be hazardous for Beijing, given the backing Taiwan would receive from the US and its other allies.

President Xi will undoubtedly be keen to avoid heavy losses and a long-drawn out conflict.

Taiwan’s chief of the National Security Bureau, Chen Ming-tong, said last month that Beijing would be “more cautious” about its war plans, given Russia’s poor performance in Ukraine.

The nation’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, added that the Taiwanese government “are taking the war in Ukraine into very serious internal discussions”.

He told NPR: “One of the tactics that has been successful so far is the asymmetric capability.

“And that is something that we are learning from and we want to discuss further with the United States.”

Either way analysts will be paying particular attention to Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe’s speech on Sunday for any mentions of the situation in Taiwan.

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