Window of opportunity for invasion is opening
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2017.8.3
On July 18, Peter Enav, a former Associated Press reporter in Taiwan,
published an article on the Taiwan Sentinel Web site, arguing that China
might be ready to launch an attack on Taiwan by the middle of next year.
Unexpectedly, some of the reactions I heard accused the author of
helping China and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) intimidate
Perhaps many feel that the US is protecting Taiwan and so China would
not dare attack, and that this will automatically lead to the establishment of
a Republic of Taiwan.
While I do not agree with Enav that next year is the most likely date for
an attack, I also think that the risk China will attack has increased, for
First, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is an arrogant adventurist,
whether he is dealing with internal enemies or external expansion.
Because of his despotism, he is surrounded by sycophants and yes-
sayers, which results in political miscalculations.
Second, if the life-and-death struggle among the Chinese Communist
Party’s (CCP) top leaders does not end soon, Xi might use his power to
lead both the party and the army into an all-out war to establish his
authority, and weak Taiwan — which would be seen as a legitimate target
— could well be on the receiving end of such an exercise.
Most of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) exercises are aimed at
Taiwan, and it is already routine for the PLA Navy and Air Force to
circumnavigate Taiwan as they familiarize themselves with the territory.
Third, China no longer claims that the “one country, two systems”
formula is a model for how it would treat Taiwan, which implies that it
would apply a “one country, one system” policy in Taiwan. This
means that the risk of military invasion has increased.
The CCP’s current United Front strategy is infiltrating and weakening
Taiwan from the inside to prepare the way for military invasion and a
subsequent collapse of Taiwan’s defenses.
Fourth, Taiwan is experiencing domestic chaos. The groups opposed to
pension reform would likely welcome a Chinese invasion and there are
also some confused people who would be willing to accept being
entertained for free in China.
As the power struggle within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is
making members treat friends as enemies and enemies as friends, the
party could lose its ability to resist China, while there is a lack of young
people willing to join the military and defend the nation. All these are
factors lead to an increased risk of invasion.
Fifth, Western nations’ appeasement of China is fanning its willingness
to invade. When Nobel Peace Price laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) was
dying, not a single G20 nation dared bring up the issue with Xi at a G20
summit, much like what happened at the Munich conference in 1938,
which encouraged Adolf Hitler to invade Poland.
Sixth, the Taiwan-friendly group of people around US President Donald
Trump have been weakened and pro-China forces might gain the upper
hand, which could be the crucial factor that Xi needs.
Possibility is not the same thing as certainty. As long as we are fully
prepared, risk will decrease, while blind optimism and lack of preparation
will lead to increased risk.
If President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) continues to engage with the military,
take a gentle approach to reform and work to minimize social division,
she stands a good chance of fostering solidarity and unity against the
Regardless, China is Taiwan’s greatest enemy. If Xi dared to attempt an
invasion, that would be the moment Taiwan should declare independence.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson