Experts: China’s Political Struggle Could Become Ignition for War in the Taiwan Strait

The military of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been one of its most critical tools in its high-level power struggles. During the most intense power struggles and the most internal chaos are when the CCP is most likely to wage war externally.

The Sino-Indian War broke out after the Seven Thousand Cadres Conference in 1962. The Sino-Soviet Battle of Zhenbao Island in 1969 happened three years after the Cultural Revolution. The Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979 emerged at the height of the power struggle between the Hua Guofeng Group and the Deng Xiaoping Group. All these wars increased the chances of winning the internal power struggle for the CCP’s leaders in charge of military power.

At the peak of the power struggle before the 20th Communist Party Congress, attention is being focused on whether Xi Jinping will start a war in the Taiwan Strait if he suffers a setback in the CCP’s internal struggle.

On June 13th, Xi signed the Outline of Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW), which provides a legal basis for the Chinese military to carry out MOOTW. It has led to speculation that the Chinese regime will follow the example of Russia and take military action against Taiwan. On the same day, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed at a regular press conference that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters.

In testimony before the British House of Commons on June 28, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for Britain to act more quickly to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan in the event of an invasion by Beijing. Truss argued that one of the lessons of the Ukraine war for the West was that weapons should be provided to Ukraine sooner rather than later, as it takes months to train personnel to master them.

On June 29, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told an audience in Washington that fears that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would spur China to take a similar approach on Taiwan do not appear to be playing out, at least not yet. She added that there are no indications that Xi is currently intending to take Taiwan by military force, even if he is planning for the possibility.

Shi Shan, senior editor and lead writer at The Epoch Times, told Pinnacle View that the concern of Xi invading Taiwan is not groundless because the CCP has made various policy changes over the past decade or two. First, it is gradually changing the so-called hiding and biding strategy and is not even mentioning “peaceful unification” and “one country, two systems.” Second, the CCP’s military spending has increased by double-digits for 20 years. It is second only to the United States, far exceeding the combined amount of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Third, the CCP has used nationalism in place of communist ideology, but nationalism must have enemies, so the CCP has set up a series of enemies, and uniting Taiwan is one of them.

Regarding Xi signing the MOOTW, Shi believes that Xi is preparing to use it internally because Chinese society has reached a very critical time. Economic problems, natural disasters, pandemics, and internal political struggles are evolving fiercely. The absolute authority of Xi has faced enormous challenges. Chinese society may be in turmoil or even out of control. So, Xi may use the military to deal with internal political issues. Shi pointed to an example in the late period of the Cultural Revolution when Mao Zedong used the army to declare martial law. He announced first-degree combat readiness before implementing various military takeovers.

Wang Juntao completed his Ph.D. in political science at Columbia University. He told Pinnacle View that it has become clear that the CCP wants to use military means to address the so-called core interests of its surrounding areas. China’s economic development over the years and the military technology stolen from the West have made it possible for its military to make breakthroughs quickly. Wang said that fighting a war can divert attention and create excuses to suppress dissidents. Peng Zhen, a leading member of the CCP during the Korean War, said that agrarian reform was carried out once the Korean War started so that no one could hear the cries of the landlords. Wang believes that if Xi wishes to follow in the footsteps of Mao Zedong, using a minor military conflict and exaggerating it into war would be his next step. He may create a terrible atmosphere, mobilize people who lack common sense, ascribe all their suffering and social injustice to the elites, and blame the elites of government, industry, and academia for bringing imperialism in to help exploit the people, Wang said. Xi could extend it to politics and carry out political cleansing to consolidate his rule.

Retired Colonel John Mills, senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, told Pinnacle View that the CCP’s demand for TSMC chips has changed the dynamics of the situation and fundamentally altered its strategy toward Taiwan. Taiwan must be careful if the CCP takes military action because they cannot win by bombing indiscriminately. On the defense strategies of Taiwan, Mills said Taiwan needs to accelerate its defense spending, buy weapons from the United States, stockpile ammunition, and build a well-trained reserve force like that of the Israelis that can immediately take up arms and fight. Mills also believes that the Australia-U.S.-U.K. alliance (AUKUS) and the ongoing formation of the Japan-India-South Korea alliance in the Asia-Pacific region have strong collaborative defense capabilities that would be a powerful deterrent to the CCP.

Pinnacle View, a new TV program launched at the end of 2021 by New Tang Dynasty and The Epoch Times, is a high-end TV forum based on events surrounding China. The program gathers elites from around the world and from all walks of life, focuses on hot issues, analyzes the world’s major trends, and provides viewers with in-depth observations on current events and historical facts.

Pinnacle View Production Team