It is, IMHO anyway FWIW, more than symbolic.
Absolutely agree with you on this. I meant to say that when you mentioned it earlier. Like you say, it’s pretty much the reason they basically did what they did in Hong Kong, despite the fact that on the surface it really didn’t make much sense…except it really did and does, to the CCP.
All true. Two things though. Do THEY think the US will support Taiwan? Do THEY think Taiwan will ‘fight like a motherfucker’? I’d say the answer to that is no with caveats. Remember, this is an authoritarian regime of Orwellian proportions. Literally. And the CCP basically expects to get the answers they want to get. And the folks answering those questions know this, and so gives them the answers they want to hear. In addition, we (the US, Taiwan, Japan, Europe, etc) confuse them. We don’t react or do things as they do…and vice versa. What they say and think we hear is often different than what we hear and think they say. And, again, vice versa. There is a ton of misconceptions on both sides and a lot of miscalculation. WE think we are telling the Chinese we will not support a Chinese takeover and will support Taiwan. That’s not what they are hearing though. They think they are signaling that they intend to do this…but that’s not what we hear.
This is similar to Iraq before they invaded Kuwait. They heard us basically saying they could invade and we’d do nothing. We thought we were warning the Iraqis off. And the difference between the US and China is a lot more than the US and Iraq.
At any rate, I definitely think the position that this is all BS and saber-rattling is viable. It could be just what you are saying, and even if some factions in the CCP might be contemplating a move they still could just not do it because of the realization that it will be a fight that they could lose.