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8 Nov, 2022 20:08

Taiwan must 'get ready' for invasion – president

Tsai Ing-wen is boosting military spending, but counting on Western military aid
Taiwan must 'get ready' for invasion – president

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told The Atlantic on Monday that there “is a genuine threat” of a Chinese invasion. China has insisted that it will strive to reintegrate Taiwan by peaceful means, but should conflict break out, Tsai will be looking to the West for help.

In an article penned by Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s speechwriter and Deputy National Security Advisor, Tsai said that “we need to get ourselves ready” for a potential Chinese invasion. “It’s real that this thing could happen to us,” she continued, adding: “there is a genuine threat out there. It’s not hype.”

Taiwan has governed itself since nationalist forces led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island in 1949, after they lost a civil war to the Communists. Beijing’s position is that Taiwan is an integral part of China – the so-called ‘One China’ policy – and that China “will inevitably be reunified,” and a white paper released in August states that while Beijing will strive to achieve this reunification peacefully, it reserves the right to use military force.

While China’s military is orders of magnitude stronger than Taiwan’s, Tsai has boosted defense spending by 13%, and will spend $19 billion on her military in 2023. Taipei’s aim, Rhodes outlined, is to make invasion too costly for China.

“If the [People’s Liberation Army] wants to do something drastic, [Chinese President] Xi has to weigh the costs,” Tsai told the former White House official. “He has to think twice.”

However, even with its double-digit increase in defense spending, and with the US authorizing a billion-dollar arms sale to Taipei in September, Tsai would still need the West to bankroll Taiwan’s military as it currently does for Ukraine’s forces.

“The Western countries, particularly the US, are helping Ukraine. What we see from the Ukraine war is Western countries get together and help Ukraine to fight,” she said.

The US government has officially recognized, but not endorsed, China’s sovereignty over Taiwan since the 1970s, and while US President Joe Biden has promised on several occasions that the American military would help repel a Chinese invasion, White House aides have walked these statements back every time.

Shortly after Tsai spoke to Rhodes, China opened its biennial air show, demonstrating anti-drone weapons, fifth-generation fighter jets, and reportedly hypersonic anti-ship missiles. Analysts described this flexing of military muscle as a warning to the West not to interfere with the reunification with Taiwan.