Is China preparing to attack Taiwan?

I noticed.

I thought the world was done with gunboat diplomacy.

Where will we be if we allow China to re-start the age of empire building by force?

I’m genuinely curious why you would think that. History didn’t end in the 1990s. Neither did “gunboat diplomacy.” The U.S. has been a leading practioner for over a century now, and never stopped.

I mean…Russia annexed Crimea by force. From the perspective of China (and a lot of other countries), the U.S. misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan were precisely empire building by force - we just failed at it. And few if any in China would see seizing Taiwan by force as “empire building”. From their perspective, it’s a purely internal matter, little different from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff with Ammon Bundy and his cronies, other than being at a larger scale.

I’ll give a slightly different answer to what you were asking (I don’t disagree with what gdave was saying there). Demographics. China, and the CCP specifically is facing a number of challenges, but a lot of them boil down to demographics, IMHO anyway.

First, there is the elephant in the room, which is the self inflicted demographics crisis they are facing wrt their population. Within (IIRC) 50 years, the Chinese are facing something like a 50% drop in population, and it will only get worse from there, at least for a while (it will…probably…eventually balance out). Think about that for a moment…a 50% decrease in population in a pretty short time span. Not only that, they will have a huge number of elderly (and those, less productive) people supported by a small number of working age people. Also, those currently in charge (basically, my generation…the generation that grew up under Mao and remembers the really bad times and the fact that times are much, much better today) are the ones aging out, so to speak. The next, follow on generations, while they have certainly been brought up on CCP propaganda (and, admittedly are proud of the CCP and what it’s accomplished) aren’t the same. For one thing, they grew up in a China of rising prosperity but also rising global connections…they know better times, they have seen and had a taste of prosperity, but also they are MUCH more cosmopolitan in outlook and have been exposed to different views. The business class especially is more oriented towards the West, at least in so far as they see the prosperity, and also see the power they could wield using economic leverage.

But all that is changing, and if you think about Hong Kong it’s a symptom of what the CCP fears. And, really, Taiwan is the cornerstone of what they really fear. Asahi brought this up but didn’t take it far enough. To the CCP, Taiwan is ALSO an existential and lingering threat, and they are rapidly running out of time to deal with it. Think about what the CCP has been cracking down on, internally. From a completely rational (or at least a Western) perspective, a lot of it doesn’t make sense, or is completely counter intuitive), but it all ties in. Crack down on Hong Kong Protesters. Crack down on foreign influence/foreign forces. Crack down on wealthy business people (especially those no in Xi’s faction :wink: ). Crack down on social media personalities and shows that aren’t approved by the CCP or show China in (what the CCP considers) a bad light. Crack down on celebrities. It’s a pattern that demonstrates what they fear…and the real fear is they think things are slipping out of their control. It’s always the danger of authoritarian states…the perception of the loss of control, and the need to assert that control.

Anyway, long story short, I think it boils down to demographics for much of the answer to the ‘why now’ and ‘why’ you are asking there. It is, of course, a complex subject, but that’s the best I can do to boil it down in yet another wall of text. :wink:

It’s a common trope by the Chinese themselves, and even to this day. For example, from last June:

Other points refer to ideas concerning tradition, authoritarianism, etc.

Well…we went to war with Iraq when they rolled up in Kuwait to make them go away.

I cannot think of any countries the US has taken at gunpoint since WWII.

I think that’s called soft power. Hardball imperialist politics is what countries like the U.S. does, which is why ANZUS and even SEATO didn’t flourish.

Given that, AU appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place. From neighboring countries: welcome to the club!

That’s the same Iraq which the U.S. armed previously.

This might also help:

So what?

But what does China gain from that? It ruins its trading relations with most of the world, and Taiwan doesn’t have much in terms of resources.

But what does the U.S. gain from fears that China is preparing to attack Taiwan? Does that mean more arms sales, or a continuation of Obama’s pivot and the general strategy of encircling China, Russia, and other countries by demonizing them?

And after the failed adventure in Afghanistan, which led to trillions lost and up to a million dead?

Oh, the irony.


Good grief.

Seriously? Afghanistan in 2001/2 and Iraq in 2003?

From the U.S. perspective (or at least the perspective of the Bush administration), we weren’t trying to physically annex them, we were just trying to oust dangerously hostile regimes, and then extricate ourselves. We succeeded at the first (temporarily, in the case of Afghanistan), and failed at the second.

But from the perspective of ordinary Iraqis and Afghanis, what the U.S. did was pretty much indistinguishable from having their country taken at gunpoint. And from the perspective of many other countries, including China, it sure as heck looked like we were taking countries at gunpoint, and building an empire by force, especially in the case of Iraq.

And that’s not even counting more transient armed interventions, in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and so forth, and ongoing “anti-terrorist” operations in Africa and Asia. From the perspective of many countries, including China, since 1991 the U.S. sure has looked like it’s been engaging in “gunboat diplomacy” and “taking countries at gunpoint” and “building an empire by force.” For that matter, it’s looked that way to many Americans.

And, again, the U.S. hasn’t been the only one. Russia reconqured the breakaway region of Chechnya by armed force. It’s been staging interventions in its “near abroad” for decades. It invaded Georgia in 2008 to carve off the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as supposedly autonomous enclaves, but they’re functionally somewhere between Russian-dominated satellites and semi-autonomous regions of Russia itself. And Russia just straight up annexed Crimea by armed force.

If the PRC attempts of annex Taiwan by force, it’s hardly going to be the first case of empire building by armed force since World War II, and if it succeeds, it would be far from the first successful attempt.

When has the US claimed another country and added it to its map such that when you see a map of the US that (now former) country is included as part of the US since WWII?

That is what the OP is on about. Not China leaning on Taiwan but China making Taiwan 100% part of China forever.

Again, it’s always been the official position of both the PRC (mainland China) and the ROC (Taiwan) that Taiwan is 100% part of China forever. From the perspective of the the vast majority of people in the PRC, not just the current leadership, taking Taiwan by force wouldn’t be empire building. It would just be reasserting central government control over a rebellious and recalcitrant province. Again, other than the scale, from their perspective it’s really no different than U.S. government standoffs at Malheur or with other “sovereign citizens”.

And while I personally tend to agree with you that the U.S. hasn’t actually been trying to build a physical empire of conquest, it very much looks otherwise to a lot of people in other countries, and it very much looks otherwise to plenty of Americans.

And again, from the perspective of Ukraine, and the U.S. and most of Western Europe, Russia’s seizure of Crimea was straight up military conquest and empire building by force. But, from Russia’s perspective, they were just reclaiming a constituent Russian province that never should have been politically seperated in the first place. Pretty much exactly the PRC’s position with regards to Taiwan.

And, getting back to “why now?”, China saw Russia reclaiming a “lost province” by armed force, and saw the U.S. and the EU and the UN…not really do much. They protested, and imposed some sanctions, but nothing truly crippling. Germany didn’t even cancel the Nord Stream pipeline project.

It sure may look to Xi and others in the Chinese government that any U.S. hints of military intervention to protect Taiwan are so much bluster, and that the U.S., the EU, and others won’t react much more strongly to an annexation by force of Taiwan than they did to the annexation of Crimea. Given how much stronger China is than Russia, and how much more economically important it is to the U.S. and the EU, they well be calculating that there would be less blowback, and that they’re better positioned than Russia to weather any international blowback in the first place.

So…why two governments if they both agree they are “China”?

Why is the ROC asserting its independence if they agree they are China?

That is rhetorical. I just want to point out that the ROC calling itself “China” does not in any way equate to an agreement with the PRC on who is governing what.

For all of their bloviating they are two different countries and everyone knows it (including the PRC and the ROC).

I know you stated that this was rhetorical, but just to make clear: the ROC isn’t asserting its independence. Again, that’s been the PRC’s one inviolable red line that literally everyone in the world has abided by since 1949. But there is a growing movement on Taiwan to do precisely that, and give up the pretense that Taipei is the capital of the Republic of China. Which is another reason “why now”.

Here’s the thing. Everyone doesn’t “know” that.

For most of its history, the ROC was a one-party state, and as long as members of the KMT old guard that had actually been the government of China were still alive, it wasn’t just a political fiction. The KMT leadership really did think that the PRC and ROC were rival governments of China, and that Taiwan was just a temporary refuge.

As the old guard died off, and Taiwan’s political system liberalized, and native Taiwanese gained more power, and the younger generations, even descendants of the mainland refugees, thought of themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, it’s increasingly become the case that, as you say, the PRC and the ROC are really separate countries.

But the other side of that is that not just the current leaders of the PRC, but most ordinary citizens of the PRC don’t “know” that the PRC and the ROC are different countries. They really do honestly still think of Taiwan as an integral province of China, and the ROC as pretenders.

For much of the rest of the world, the idea that the PRC and the ROC are rival Chinese governments and Taiwan is really still part of China proper is a politically convenient fiction. For much of both the leadership and the ordinary citizens of the PRC, the idea that the PRC and the ROC are two different countries is the politically convenient fiction.

Yes they are. Quite explicitly and very recently:

In fact, according to that article,

Tsai says Taiwan is already a sovereign nation with no need to declare independence.

President Tsai very carefully walked right up to the line and stopped just short.

(Which brings us back to “why now.” The fact that democratic Taiwan has been flirting with an outright declaration of independence is a fairly recent and seismic change in the status quo).

And look at the PRC’s official response:

“This speech advocated Taiwan independence, incited confrontation, cut apart history and distorted facts,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said.

Again, you think that the ROC is a separate, sovereign state from mainland China. The overwhelming majority of the people of Taiwan think that they’re already a separate, sovereign state. I think that Taiwan is a separate, sovereign state. But most of the leadership and common citizenry of the PRC don’t.

So the PRC leadership are living in a bubble with no sense of the rest of the world and the political landscape? They think ROC is China to do with as they will and that is the end of it?

Maybe some farmer in remote Gansu province is not up on the latest news but I am willing to bet Xi Jinping is a pretty smart guy who knows the reality of it all.