Chinese aggression on Taiwan tests US resolve in Afghanistan withdrawal, experts say

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The recent assault on Taiwan by the Chinese Communist regime shows that Beijing is seeking to test the resolve of the Biden administration, particularly in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, experts told Fox News.

Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, sent dozens of fighter jets over the past month to the territory’s air defense zone, as part of a muscular approach to the region that has been escalating for months. . President Xi Jinping also renewed his calls for its introduction into China, calling for “peaceful reunification”.

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Beijing regards Taiwan as a separatist province and claims it is part of its own territory. The two countries separated in 1949, and China increased pressure on the autonomous nation, while opposing its involvement in international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States does not formally recognize Taiwan, but maintains an unofficial relationship and supports its democratic government.

Experts say that while there are many aspects in which China has recently stepped up its aggressive maneuvers towards the US ally, including national power struggles, the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan is one of those contributing factors.

“They periodically increase the pressure to put pressure on Taiwan, to put pressure on the United States and to probe weaknesses, to test our resolve,” James Anderson, president of the Institute of World Politics and former senior official, told Fox. defense official in the Trump administration. New. “And probably the immediate cause of the most recent escalation and investigation is linked to our botched and unfortunate disaster over the withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

The withdrawal at the end of August is seen as having harmed the United States’ position and engagement abroad, and the Chinese state media used the chaotic departure to mock the United States.

“The United States has just shown the world that it is unable or unwilling to confront a small adversary in Afghanistan with very basic weapons,” the state-controlled Global Times said. tweeted. “So in the future, when he urges his allies to challenge great powers like China and Russia, very few will follow.”

Heino Klinck, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, noted that the aggression preceded the pullout, but he believes it fuels a narrative of the weakness of the United States.

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“We have seen a marked increase in China’s aggressiveness and assertiveness over the past year, so you can safely say that this is not something new and associated with the withdrawal of China. ‘Afghanistan, although the withdrawal from Afghanistan fuels the Chinese narrative of an inevitable decline in US power, “he said.

He warned that a failure by the United States to support Taiwan could be even more damaging to the United States’ reputation abroad.

“If the United States’ commitment to Taiwan falters, it will send a signal to the rest of the world that the debacle in Afghanistan will do nothing in comparison,” he said.

It was an assessment shared by Anderson: “[The Chinese] are certainly trying to create a narrative and promote and promote a narrative that the United States is an unreliable ally and partner, and that needs to be countered. “

Isaac Stone Fish, CEO of Strategy Risks, a company that measures Chinese risk, told Fox that the recent assault appears to be intended to “test the United States’ resolve to defend Taiwan, and Beijing appears to be gathering information on the lines. American reds and to a lesser extent. as the Taiwanese red lines are also found. “

Stone Fish, however, downplayed the importance of the US withdrawal and the change of US administration on the Taiwanese situation, and instead said national and political issues in Beijing were a more important factor.

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“Like so many things related to China, it has a lot more to do with Chinese political changes than American political changes, and it’s almost certainly closely related to the possibility of a power transition in 2022 and how that Xi is sending signals to other members of the political elite, ”he said.

He also raised the possibility that Beijing saw the withdrawal from Afghanistan not as a sign of weakness, but as a way for the United States to be able to focus its resources more on the fight against China.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have sought to project force on the Taiwan question. Nicholas Burns, President Biden’s candidate for Chinese ambassador, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Beijing’s actions against Taiwan were “particularly reprehensible” and that the United States should “oppose unilateral actions that undermine the status quo and undermine the stability of the region ”.

“The Biden administration has essentially continued the policies and priorities that were instituted and established by the Trump administration,” Klinck said. “In some ways, they’ve even doubled.”

How China will move forward is a matter of debate, and the likelihood of a skirmish or even a full invasion of Taiwan in the next few years has divided experts.

“It feels like we are in a short period where things could really explode and next year the focus will be on this power struggle,” Stone Fish said, referring to the 2022 Party Congress. He also stressed the importance of Taiwan to China and the United States.

“This allows the United States to project power into the South Sea and the East Sea or at least prevent China from projecting power into those seas, so Taiwan would make it much more likely to happen. China’s dominance in Asia and it would be difficult naval if it weren’t for Taiwan, ”he said.

Anderson described an approach of “relentless” pressure on the part of the Chinese as they seek to assert dominance in the region and portray the United States as in decline.

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“What happened in Afghanistan solidified these views and on top of that they are trying to create a narrative that will promote America’s decline, there is a very broad and comprehensive approach to moving states- United as a preeminent world power, “he said. “This includes the theft of our technology, sowing divisions between the United States and its allies, campaigns to intensify political divisions in the United States, the list goes on and on.”

“We are entering a very dangerous time, there is no doubt, and Taiwan is a potential flashpoint,” he said.

Klinck said he believed Xi did not want to invade Taiwan because “the risks are too high,” but warned that the objectives are broader than a military conflict.

“I think Xi Jinping wants to dissuade Taiwan from taking any hasty action, especially a move towards de jure independence and I think Xi wants to convey first and foremost to the United States and other regional actions that China’s determination and commitment to its “sovereignty and geographic integrity” should not be called into question, “he said.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.

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