It seems the Taiwanese issue is only getting hotter, and the latest US move for its Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi to make a demonstrative visit to Taiwan is only serves to farther fuel this issue. I want to examine possible reasons behind this yet another move of the US against its own One China policy, as well as the possible outcomes of this endeavor.
First of all, I will examine the US policy towards China not by itself, but as a subset of a US global aspirations. Since current US foreign policy is seem to be of an ideological nature, this ideology is applicable not only to China, but to the entire world.
US has its stated adversaries and near-peer competitors, which it is trying to take down by a wide array of means, or at least hinder their development, preferably weakening their economies, militaries, governments etc. The current main adversaries are: Iran, North-Korea and Venezuela, and the current near-peer competitors are China and Russia. Russia is mostly seen as a military competitor, while China is seen as someone who can challenge the US global dominance as a super-power in all the fields: economy, diplomacy, since and technology and military.
Until now, US foreign policy focused on dealing with the weaker opponents which could be threatened militarily and be weakened by economic sanctions. The first step is a global PR campaign, following by crippling sanctions and/or military interventions. This wasn’t necessarily based on any threat those nations presented to US or its global hegemony, but on the basis of their antipathy towards US global vision.
Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria suffered military interventions intended to topple their governments and to install a US-aligned government or, at least, to seed chaos to the point where those countries will become irrelevant on the global scale.
Iran, North Korea and Venezuela haven’t suffered a direct military intervention. North Korea is a though nut to crack, especially after it has developed some basic nuclear capabilities. Iran and Venezuela were probably spared from military attacks because US has ran out of steam after the Iraq and Afghanistan, while Syrian campaign also didn’t went as expected.
The idea of going after those countries seems quite simple. First you take out the weaker allies before going for the big guys. US is accustomed to being the alpha dog in a large pack. NATO, Australia, Japan and so on, are following the US lead regarding its foreign policy. This gives the US the international and (maybe more importantly — domestically) the justification for its actions. US is seen as a leader of the group of world powers, the force acting for the global good. If it to be alone, its overseas actions would to seem unjustified and needlessly aggressive even to its own population.
Following this idea, US acts as if Russia or China need the moral support of countries like Iran to implement their foreign policies. Which is a mistake, of course, since those countries are already accustomed to some kind of a diplomatic isolation US imposed on them for decades. That is why their diplomatic and economic interactions with other countries on the global scene are based on mutual benefit and not on ideology or moral support of the global community. Unlike the US, they also have a strong incentive to develop its critical military capabilities domestically, and not to rely too much on international cooperation. That is why the idea of weakening those two by diplomatically isolating them from the global community, especially the Western powers, won’t bear the fruits US is hoping for. All the China really need is a reliable energy supplier, and all Russia is really need is a competent government.
But, by US logic, weaker “allies” are needed to be taken down before going after the two big near-peer competitors. Failed to do this to the full extent, US has decided to go after Russia and China, sensing its interventionistic momentum is dying out.
But it seems Russia has hastened this development before US was fully ready to take it on. The regime change in Belarus has failed, instead pushing it much closer to Russia. The Quad alliance, which mainly meant to suck India into military opposition against China in regards to Taiwan issue has also failed. The US economy is worsening and the public support for current government is crushing. There were only two options: abandon the plan until better times, or push forward, hoping for the best.
US, being an economy based superpower, sees China as a bigger threat than Russia. True, Russia military potential, especially the nuclear one, is far beyond anything China has or will have in a near future. But since we judge others according to ourselves, US perceives an economic threat as the main one. US is also much more dependent on Chinese exports much more than the Russian ones, even thought I’m not entirely sure it is really so, given how much any production depends on raw materials and other goods of which Russia is a main or a major exporter. In any case, if my analysis is correct, the intended order was: smaller ideologically opposed countries, then the immediate neighbors of Russia and China aligned with then, then Russia and finally China. The global dominance should have been achieved following these steps.
But the offence on Russia is not going well at all. So now the choices are:
- wait for the end of the Russo-Ukraine war, hopping Russia will somehow lose and become weakened in the process;
- start the offensive against the main threat — China, somehow hopping to take it and Russia down;
- switch to China abandoning the Ukraine (because its a lost cause anyway) and ignoring the Russian success what will follow.
My guess is that the US is currently trying to implement the third option. As things are going, Ukraine will be lost to the West, and maybe Europe will be lost to the US as a result. NATO may crumble. And, maybe more importantly, US may find an anti-Biden republicans in the majority soon enough on top on the economic crisis, that will make any attempts to transfer money, weapons and military to South-East Asia much more difficult. So the idea here is to abandon all the secondary missions and to go after the main one, while it is still possible.
But any actions against China need some kind of justification. This justifications should be supplied by the Chinese themselves, in the form of retaliatory actions following some kind of innocent-looking provocation, like the Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The question now is how determent are the Chinese to escalate towards the armed conflict against the Taiwan and, possibly, the US? It seems to me they are very determined indeed. Because the current economic and social situation in China seems not to favor the current president and the forces behind him. And this situation will only worsen in the short term, living the government no other choice but to start a military intervention in Taiwan, in order to remain at the helm. Such an operation will overwhelm any dissatisfaction regarding internal issues, and align the Chinese population behind the current government.
In other words it seems that, unless some other fractions in US, Taiwan or China will manage to highjack the helm and to steer the country in different direction, these two governments have no other real choice but to gradually push towards a military conflict over the Taiwan. Each one will take small steps in order not to be seen by the global community as the sole aggressor.
Since US has no real hope for a conventional military victory over China near Chinese borders, and the unconventional victory is out of the question, the best outcome it can hope for is a never-ending standoff near Taiwan. In that case, electronic components flow from the Taiwan to the rest of the world will come to a halt, and the global economy, especially the western, more high-tech oriented, will crush. Which will, eventually, require the US to find a diplomatic solution were China will get its control over Taiwan anyway.
Afterword — Farther Predictions
As a result, the Ukraine affairs will be quickly abandoned by the West, and Russia will bring it under its full control not long after the Ukrainian government and military have collapsed. Countries currently in doubt, or searching an alternative to Russia patronage, like Kazakhstan, Georgia and maybe even Azerbaijan, will start aligning themselves towards Russia. Europe might see much more Ukrainian refuges (until it decide to close the border) which will only worsen its economic and social problems. Europe will probably detach itself from the US, and enter a period of decline, maybe loosing its professionals fleeing abroad in search of a better life, possibly to US, China or even Russia.
Chinese control over Taiwan (assuming the semiconductor foundries will survive) will also mean Russia will have free access to the latest available microchips, which will farther boost its high-tech military and civilian capabilities (space, aviation, automotive etc.).
It will also mean the end of global economic sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Israel will experience a shock and loose a great deal of its confidence in US backing. It would have to accelerate its diplomatic
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