Stan Grant in panic as Chinese overlords threaten Taiwan

Antiameristan has a good piece today:

When Taiwan’s foreign minister warns of a fight to the end in a looming war with China, we should pay attention.

This is not sabre rattling, it is not fear mongering — it is the cool headed assessment of a man whose job is to ready the Taiwanese people for the worst.

Joseph Wu says Taiwan is preparing for an invasion. There are few diplomatic options right now, as Xi Jinping says that he will go to war if necessary to bring Taiwan under his control.

Taiwan is a fault line that could crack open the global geopolitical order. Xi Jinping has set his course: claiming Taiwan will assure his legacy. It is the big piece in his China Dream.

Call it Xi’s gamble: That history is on his side and his big rival the US will do nothing to stop him. There is a big test looming: Will America fight alongside Taiwan? The answer to that question will determine Australia’s fate; a broader conflict would likely mean we would be at war, too.

If only this were speculation. It has gone beyond that. Australia has boosted its defence spending and entered a new pact with old allies the US and UK to develop nuclear powered submarines to arm ourselves for the worst.

Taiwan isn’t waiting for mainland China to attack; as far as it is concerned, the battle has already begun.

Just last weekend Beijing ordered up to 80 fighter jets to the southern region of Taiwan to simulate an attack. It is as close to real as it gets.

The threat is real, the clock is ticking

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has spoken to ABC TV’s China Tonight program to send a serious message: Taiwan is under threat from China and the threat is real.

“As well as the military threat, they have set up their cronies inside Taiwan and they run a lot of misinformation campaigns,” he says. “China has been threatening Taiwan and the threat seems more serious than before.”

But would Xi go from threat and intimidation? Joseph Wu has no doubt. “We are very concerned that China is going to launch a war against Taiwan at some point,” he says.

At what point? War is not imminent, despite Xi’s provocation. But Joseph Wu warns that the Chinese President is under pressure at home and could manufacture a crisis to divert attention.

“We are very concerned if domestic discontent or economic slowdown is getting very serious, Taiwan could become a target,” he warns.

Joseph Wu knows the clock is ticking. Xi Jinping is a man on a mission; he wants to complete what he calls the China Dream — to return the nation to the apex of global power. It is on track to be the biggest economy in the world by the end of this decade and is building a military to match.

It is boosting its naval force, investing in more nuclear strike capacity and preparing for a regional showdown Xi says it will fight and win.

Taiwan is the prize. For Xi, it means finishing what China’s revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong, started. When Mao defeated the American backed Nationalists, his enemy fled with people and treasure to set up a rival government in Taiwan.

For Xi, there can only be one China. As he says, Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all “children of the yellow emperor”.

Testing a diplomatic status quo

That isn’t how Joseph Wu sees it. He knows a formal vote on independence would be a red line to Beijing, but says that doesn’t need to be crossed — Taiwan is already its own nation.

“Taiwan is not part of any other country,” he says. “Taiwan is a country with the formal title ‘the Republic of China’.”

Comments like that infuriate China. And Joseph Wu knows there is scant formal international diplomatic support for Taiwan.

Overwhelmingly, the world’s nations — Australia included — recognise one China. It is a diplomatic status quo that has held for more than 70 years, but is being tested now.

Xi seeks to unify the nation. He has already crushed dissent, imposed Beijing control over Hong Kong; to “harmonise” the nation, he is locking up Uighur Muslims in what human rights groups have called “brainwashing camps”. He has been accused of genocide.

Territory and sovereignty are crucial to Xi. He has claimed and militarised the disputed islands of the South China Sea. His army has clashed with Indian forces on their contested border.

He is a man in a hurry. There are significant headwinds: His population is ageing and shrinking, economic growth is slowing, the crash of companies like property giant Evergrande may be a harbinger of greater collapse.

But Taiwan is the jewel in the crown. To take it back would send a message that China has arrived as a superpower.

So, what would America do?

The Taiwan Relations Act does not bind the US to defend Taiwan. It is required to provide Taiwan with the capacity to defend itself. Over the past decade, America has announced more than $20 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

It’s part of what’s been called the “porcupine strategy”: arm Taiwan sufficiently to deter a Chinese attack. But Xi senses a moment. The West, he says, is in decline, while China is on the rise.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised questions about the future of American power. Speaking on China Tonight recently, former translator to Deng Xiaoping, Victor Gao, claimed no US soldier will fight and die for Taiwan. He may well be right.

Joseph Wu says Taiwan is preparing to defend itself — alone, if necessary.

“The defence of Taiwan is in our own hands,” he says. “If China’s going to launch a war against Taiwan, we will fight to the end.”

The Foreign Minister says Taiwan is looking for closer security ties with fellow democracies like America and Australia. Taiwan, he says, wants to share intelligence with Australia.

The recent AUSMIN meeting of Australia’s defence and foreign affairs ministers with their US counterparts committed to “strengthen ties with Taiwan”.

The geopolitical plates are shifting. The US has declared China a strategic competitor. It is seen as the biggest threat to US security. Australia has dropped the pretence of not having to choose; it has doubled down on the American alliance.

The AUKUS agreement with the UK and US and the deal for Australia to build nuclear powered submarines is designed to send a clear message to China that the US is not going to surrender dominance in the Indo-Pacific.

To that, add the Quad — India, Japan, Australia, and the US — a regional democratic bloc to contain China’s rise.

But Xi Jinping has been preparing for this. He has an advanced military strategy to blunt American power by limiting US military access. Taiwan is outgunned.

Joseph Wu wants to raise the stakes for Xi Jinping by talking up Taiwan’s powerful friends. Doing interviews warning of war, he hopes, is his best chance of avoiding one. But is Xi even listening?

What I don’t get with Stan Grant is why he is so keen to give Australian democracy away to China yet so upset that Taiwan might lose it.

Beyond that, Jospeh Wu is making a great deal of sense on China and the CCP. It is political and economic weakness, not strength that will trigger any invasion.

Whether this is it, who knows. “Common prosperity” could be a cover for war given it means much slower growth and declining CCP legitimacy on that basis.

As for what western powers should do, nothing more than they are already. The Taiwan case is pretty hopeless. It always has been. That’s one major reason why America never committed to defending it in the first place.

Such a loss can make an immense contribution to the preservation of the liberal imperium. The fear that such an invasion will engender across Asia and the world is the key weapon to end any further expansion of the illiberal Chinese empire as everybody else rushes to Washington for security guarantees.

This is the way to win Cold War 2.0. Arm Taiwan for its own struggle, which it will hopefully win. To aid it in that endeavor, prepare a Cold War economic blockade so complete that if hostilities break out it ushers in a catastrophic and ceaseless Chinese economic contraction, leading to either internal fixation or collapse.

Houses and Holes
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Comments

  1. Frank DrebinMEMBER

    I need to do my own research but why has the US been so hands off in regards to supporting Taiwan for the past 70 years ?.

    Seems like the perfect crusade – democratic nation breaks away and is under assault from the big bad Communists. Even Rambo could develop a plot line around it.

    Arms sales sure but no US bases or presence ala Japan and the Philippines.

    • If you look at the last 70 years of world history the USA has been at war for most of them.
      The Korean War was the last time the USA directly confronted China. Back then China was not a Nuclear force to be reckoned with, today it is.
      To go to war with China risks a nuclear war . That means a direct threat to the US homeland. Sure the US would inflict more damage than they receive, but China can afford 300,000,000 casualties, the US cannot.

      • There will be no war… no-one recognises Taiwanese existence! Most countries, with exception of the Vatican, don’t have any diplomatic representation. In addition, most countries officially recognise that Taiwan is essentially part of Chinese territory, for historical reasons, (trade mainly more recently).

        Consequently, no country has a legal basis to impose sanctions if China one day did decide to walk in. Taiwan has no defence treaties with anyone. Only Japan (a month ago) has publicly said that its continued existence is tied to Taiwans fate.

        Yes, China will invade, and no one will say boo. Have been pondering about this recently, and although everyone is saying its something that will happen in 10 years time, I think not. The reason being is that there a general wave of political change – a number of countries are now considering opening up diplomatic relations, even if not recognition straight away (but that would inevitably follow in time. Something China could not allow).

        If China were to move, preserving is currently legal status in international law, its better sooner rather than later. Similar to what they did in HK (least we all forget – oh sorry, we have already).

        Moreover, there is a significant portion of Taiwanese population that do want unification, but they are the older cohort, the youth are overwhelmingly vehemently opposed. Everything suggests that the timing is now. I think they could move within 12 months…

        • It would also answer why their reaction against Julie Bishops condemnation of the South China Sea was so focused and strident. Why single out Australia when virtually every nation said exactly the same thing? That bit had always got me confused.

          Australia is the bulwark against their south sea ambitions. It shouldn’t have mattered, unless it actually did matter in the foreseeable future… then we had a one in a hundred PM who was willing to go up against political consensus. Surprised everyone.

          Just conjecture, but if true, it means that plans and timings have been afoot for years.

    • Anders Andersen

      Simple, the same reason most countries changed recognition from Taiwan to China, money (trade). Forget all the hype about democracy etc, wave money in front of a capitalists face and they’ll follow that first. China offered access to a much bigger market than Taiwan had to offer the west.

  2. The actual form of a Chinese assault on Taiwan is interesting to contemplate.

    As usual, logistics is the key. How would China actually get their boots on the ground, first from the mainland to the coast of Taiwan, and then on to the beach?

    I can see regiments of Chinese infantry sinking into the ocean on board their burning troopships.

    Whatever the case, it won’t be pretty.

    • it will be won and lost in the air in a short space of time. control the air you control the borders, either permitting or blocking direct invasion.

      • I dunno. There’s a massive asymmetry of effect between an anti-ship cruise missile and a large troop carrier. One missile can sink a ship carrying thousands of men and their kit. The ability to launch a couple of dozen such missiles from mobile or hidden launchers and achieve a 50% hit rate would be a huge problem for the Chinese, and very difficult to suppress, even with control of the air.

        Splitting the troops among many smaller vessels requires…many smaller vessels. Maybe a reverse Dunkirk might do the trick. 🙂

        • Splitting the troops among many smaller vessels requires…many smaller vessels.
          like several thousand fishing boats innocently plying the waters catching squid and anything else that wriggles, on a regular basis

          • Troops maybe, but not their kit. A company of main battle tanks requires a fairly big boat to move around. Then the tanks have to get from the boat to the ground. Same story with artillery. And food, ammo etc..

            The Chinese face a huge logistical challenge getting their forces over to Taiwan even if they were unnoposed. Doing so in the face of ASCMs, attack aircraft and submarines would make the most aggressive general take a deep breath.

    • Quite right.
      China does not want to inherit a burned nation. It wants the semi-conductors and all that infrastructure in place. Taiwan is capable of defending and could call on the suppressed nationalists amongst the vast Chinese in China and through the diaspora to come to its aid, commencing a rearguard action in China itself to rid the nation of its tyrant.

        • Doing the unexpected would put Beijing offside. They would not be expecting Taiwan to go on the front foot.

          The Tyrants are more scared of their own proletariat than of any foreign foe. The PLA is an army of occupation. 🙂

          • Yes, that is a possible danger to Xi, if it doesn’t immediately go to plan, there would be plenty of disgruntled groups on mainland, Xi knows it which is why he is taking out as many leaders as possible now from HK to individuals, but the people will still want the same. Though for now all looks good as they fall in behind Xi’s nationalism.

      • Anders Andersen

        ” It wants the semi-conductors and all that infrastructure in place.”
        Sorry, but I don’t think China would give a damn if Taiwan was burnt down to the high tide mark, what is a stake for China is Face and what it sees as its destiny.

    • Drop a couple of nukes on Taiwan. End of story. They don’t need to occupy it. They just need to eliminate it. Survivors may or may not be shipped off the island to Chinese mainland reeducation camps.

  3. “What I don’t get with Stan Grant is why he is so keen to give Australian democracy away”
    Arguing for a more independent position that avoids us being relegated to little more than a vassal state of the US, does not mean he wants to give Australian democracy away.

    • The context is the 14 (I think it was) demands from the CCP, upon how to conduct relations with the CCP; DLS is implying (and has other time been explicit) that heeding the CCP’s demands list is tantamount to giving up sovereign democracy.

      • ” The context is the 14 (I think it was) demands from the CCP, upon how to conduct relations with the CCP; DLS is implying (and has other time been explicit) that heeding the CCP’s demands list is tantamount to giving up sovereign democracy.“
        I don’t think Stan Grant has ever said we will or should concede on those 14 demands. He has however, not been afraid to challenge some sacred cows when it comes to the US.

        As a scribe here (named Roberto) recently said (re the 14 demands), it sometimes pays to think about who the actual audience is when something is said.

  4. Camden HavenMEMBER

    Could USD interest rate be weaponized against CCP to destabilize the already shaking edifice

  5. Perhaps Taiwan should launch an immediate counteroffensive, directed at China.
    I reckon that there are many more residents of the People’s Republic of China who would rather live like a Taiwanese citizen than the other way around.
    The Taiwanese don’t want to live in a People’s Republic and are quite happy with their Republic of China status.

    A concerted propaganda programme directed at ordinary Chinese from across the Taiwan Straits, outlining the differences of life in Taiwan, including the freedoms, lack of social credit system, the ready availability of Penfolds, the quality of housing etc would be a good start.

    Escalating that to suggest that if Taiwan was attacked, it would immediately counterattack China and would then expect massive support from the 1.3 billion Chinese who secretly would like to be rid of the tyrant Xi, could spook Beijing into pulling their collective heads in, as they know the truth of that.

    • I thought that, closet Nationalists(KMT) on the mainland “One China” world view, got buried along with Bush senior, Even Dubya couldn’t keep that “One China” rhetoric straight.

    • Mamady Doumbouya

      You’re so ignorant it actually hurts to read your words, I had to stop.

      Literally – you have absolutely no clue about this issue at all.

      • So is antagonising, threatening and starting a war to only destroy what you already perceive as yours….not real bright.

  6. From my perspective
    China has a very clear strategic objective that is advanced by occupying the island of Taiwan
    Taiwan has to rely on the US believing it can continue to maintain an effective China blockade (created by Korea/Okinawa/Taiwan/Philippines).
    The effectiveness of this island chain ring fencing of China has been decreased through the creation of:
    – numerous South China sea bases
    – China’s short range ballistic missile and supersonic Cruse missiles (aka Carrier busters)
    – China’s navy (now has more vessels than the rest of world’s navy’s put together)
    – China’s Submarine capabilities
    If this were a game of Chess then the game is over, China gets Taiwan.
    But it’s like one of those Chess games where you’re down to just your King while your opponent has lost of pieces, your only hope is that you can sneak into a corner and have them trap you in a none Checkmate end position.
    Maybe it’s better for Taiwan to negotiate while there are still non-military options available.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      There is a degree of China being damned if they attack Taiwan and damned if they don’t. If they do attack Taiwan, that’s the end of any other country being aligned with China bar maybe Russia. It could lead to their economic collapse. Its is an event that could be leveraged to blockade China, a country that is a net energy and food importer in a big way. And it is a big if that they could get boots on the ground without killing the golden egg. A Taiwan last ditch threat could be to turn missiles on their own chip fabs. Without the fabs , Taiwan is just another headache for China.

      And if they do not have Taiwan, and they have now soured the worlds view of them, and they are demographically dying off, it makes it all that much harder to bridge that middle income trap.

    • China has no claim to Taiwan. Fiji has more in common with Formosa than China!
      The Han Chinese have had control over Taiwan for about 4 years out of the last 100. It was not part of China when nationalists took it over.
      It is Taiwan!

    • So many people buy the Communist propaganda where they “parade” strength. Seriously who has the Chinese communist army beaten??? Korea was a draw ’cause they wouldn’t let Macarthur drop the bomb again. They got their butts kicked by Vietnam and they’ve only really beaten Tibet!!
      No CCP member would want to be in the first OR second waves to invade Taiwan.
      Also, who cares what the size of the navy is, I reckon a lot of it will be badly made junk. It’s all vaporware in communist china. Just like their empty apartment towers, much of the PLA navy will be just making up numbers and held together with silly putty.
      The biggest risk to China is not that they invade Taiwan, but what happens when they get embargoed out of the rest of the world? No one to trade with and US navy enforcing containment in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

  7. The best defence is for the rest of the world to make it very clear that should China invade they will be locked out of world trade, including supplies of food, iron ore etc. Would also have a great side benefit to everyone else in that they will have no choice but to stimulate their own economies to replace lost production, or it’ll all move to India which Xi would not like either.
    (If China does invade I also expect the Erdogan/Putin to try to take control of Med & Putin North Pacific)

    • If China takes Taiwan by force over some historical grievance, Putin will know he is next.
      Think there are no historical grievances over parts of Eastern Russia?

    • Thanks. Interesting. I guess Kishore Mahbubani could start giving lectures then since he no longer felt comfortable having his head up LKY’s arse, since the latter had died the previous month.

    • PalimpsestMEMBER

      It was a widely held view in 2015. It’s interesting hear how far misplaced his views were. So many assumptions have been undermined in the last few years. It’s hard to listen to today.

  8. An open attack on the Taiwanese population with conventional weapons would have to be met with an overwhelming nuclear strike to decapitate Chinese leadership surely? Otherwise you think it will end with Taiwan?
    If China did the above then it is clear there is a madman in charge and there is only 1 solution to that scenario, get rid of him and give the reset of China immediate surrender terms.
    But with Sleepy Joe in charge who know what might happen, probably sleep through the whole thing.

  9. As I said a while back
    https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2021/04/why-its-time-to-move-your-assets-offshore/#comment-4106695

    China’s “economic development model is fast running out of steam”.

    This is why they have little choice but to go to war over Taiwan. The greatest threat to the CCP is the Chinese people themselves. When the people realise that the CCP can no longer deliver their end of the “social contract” bargain they’ll revolt.

    The CCP knows this and is desperate to find a distraction. Generating nationalistic attitudes and mindsets in the people is the perfect distraction. “The rest of the world is against us. Band together under the CCP flag and we’ll defeat them all”.

    The CCP needs international conflict even if it causes economic and other hardships for the people.

  10. And that’s just what a Chinese astroturfer apparatchik would say, wouldn’t he?

    You guys really need to lift your game, or you’ll find your organs being requisitioned for use by senior party members.

    Whoops…wrong place. Meant to be a reply to whatsisname above.

  11. Anders Andersen

    I’d have to say I’m somewhat perplexed at MB’s attitude to SG, I don’t see in him anything like MB does as to him being a China stooge. In general I think he is well and truly aware of the risks that China poses, just doesn’t have an extremist position.

    Overall I think he is pretty well balanced.

      • Even StevenMEMBER

        Perhaps. China doesn’t leave a lot of room for nuance. They’ve made that pretty clear.

        It’s nice to think some sort of middle ground is always possible. I’m far from convinced of this in practice.

        • If you will permit me to match your perhaps with my own. Perhaps there is more than one way to deal with China.

        • I would suggest there’s a lot of nuance between becoming a Chinese vassal state and trying to provoke a war.

    • Part of the problem with SG here at MB is that he has frequently gone to great lengths to not paint the US as some kind of saviour. This was particularly evident under Trump who unfortunately, was seen by some as a necessary evil to highlight the greater evil of China. To my mind, I had no problem with SG pointing out the problems in the US. It’s too easy to forget that democracies have sometimes been fertile nurseries for the worst tyrants in history (Mugabe, Hitler, Putin to name but a few); tyrants that frequently have a screaming mob of fanatical supporters to enforce their will. Tyrants like Trump.