Taiwan is under increasing pressure from communist China, especially in light of the United States’ sudden and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan—widely seen around the world as a shameful betrayal of longtime allies.
The small island nation could easily become a flashpoint leading to war. In recent weeks China has increasingly harassed and threatened Taiwan, repeatedly flying dozens of bombers and fighter jets near and into Taiwan’s airspace and practicing amphibious landing drills near the island.
On Oct. 9, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping clearly stated his intention to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. “People should not underestimate the Chinese people’s determination to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The task of complete reunification of China must be achieved, and it will definitely be achieved,” he said.
He also issued a clear warning to any nations—especially the United States—that might help Taiwan fight off Chinese aggression. “The Taiwan issue is entirely China’s internal affair, and no external interference can be condoned,” he warned.
This echoed an earlier message from the Beijing-based Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times shortly after America’s Afghanistan debacle: “From what happened in Afghanistan, they [the Taiwanese] should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits [of Taiwan], the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help. As a result, the DPP [Taiwan’s independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party] authorities will quickly surrender . . .”
How did we get to this point?
China expert Dr. Graham Allison sums up the situation in his 2017 book Destined for War: “The world has never seen anything like the rapid, tectonic shift in the global balance of power created by the rise of China” (p. xvi).
On July 1, 2021, some 1.4 billion Chinese commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Against a political backdrop of intense international trade war, military standoffs and allegations of broader cyberattacks on the West, Xi Jinping, who is also head of the CCP, took the opportunity to warn Western powers.
Speaking to some 70,000 dignitaries, business leaders, party administrators and children assembled in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square—the site of a 1989 bloody massacre of students demanding democratic reform—Xi thundered that any nation that tries to “bully, oppress, or enslave us . . . shall be battered and bloodied from colliding with a great wall of steel forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese people using flesh and blood.”
No one doubted that these words were firmly directed at the White House. But what does this mean?
In barely a decade, the standard of living in China has vastly improved. China today is home to the world’s largest army (2.8 million soldiers), directly reporting to President Xi. Once a backwater military, China has leaped forward to become the leader in deadly defense-evading hypersonic missiles, advanced over-the-horizon radar and other high-tech innovations.
As increasing clashes over trade, influence and territory escalate between the United States and China, so does the prospect for war.
China has made its intentions clear in how it has dealt with Hong Kong. Once part of the British Empire, Hong Kong today is Asia’s leading financial center, long the bridge for international capital entering the Chinese mainland. But in recent months it has been increasingly absorbed by mainland China and forced to surrender its citizens’ freedoms and autonomy.
As noted earlier, China also has made increasingly threatening moves toward Taiwan, an island nation that the communist Chinese have long asserted is an integral part of China.
Among other strategic assets, in southern Taiwan stands a facility around which the entire world turns—the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Accounting for more than half of the world’s semiconductor market revenue, it presents a highly tempting target for communist China. And Taiwan as a whole accounts for 60 percent of global semiconductor revenue. Whoever controls Taiwan controls the world semiconductor market, vitally important to the world’s increasingly high-tech economy.
Is such a war likely? Note these sobering comments from Dr. Allison, who is also a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy, with a special focus on nuclear weapons and terrorism: “On the current trajectory, war between the US and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized” (p. xvii, emphasis added throughout). He wrote these words long before the American debacle in Afghanistan emboldened America’s enemies around the world.
Strategy leading to U.S. defeat?
What might this possible war look like? If war broke out today, the results would likely not be good for the United States, according to Christian Brose, a recognized military analyst and author of the Wall Street Journal–acclaimed 2020 book The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare.
In the recent past, America has fought logistics-heavy wars, where ships, troops and equipment take multiple weeks to build up before the real conflict starts. Brose points out that Chinese military strategy and technological assets currently focus on preventing that from happening.
If war broke out, Chinese strikes would try to neutralize American conventional forces before they could get into position. Chinese hypersonic missiles that travel 4,000 miles per hour—more than five times the speed of sound—would swarm American carriers and land-based operations in the first hours of a war.
“While these attacks were under way, America’s forward bases in places like Japan and Guam would be inundated with waves of precise ballistic and cruise missiles . . . [that] would crater runways, blow up operations centers and fuel storage tanks, and render those US forward bases inoperable,” writes Brose.
Again, with the present balance of forces, the outcome would likely not be good for America. Barring the deployment of nuclear weapons, America would potentially suffer significant defeat. Recent wargames show America losing the majority of the time.
How did we get to this situation?
China pivots and transforms
According to Brose, China’s leaders watched intently as U.S. and allied forces built up their forces before rolling over Saddam Hussein’s state-of-the-art Cold War military forces in the first Gulf War. The Chinese observers decided they could not let this happen to them.
Between 2010 and 2020, Chinese military spending increased 900 percent. What they couldn’t build, the Chinese bought, including high-tech, power-projecting aircraft carriers. How were they able to do this?
Following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States stood unrivaled as the world’s sole superpower. China, its economy and influence on the world held down by more than a billion people eking out a sparse living below the poverty level, needed America and the West.
Then, during the rule of Deng Xiaoping, the prior nation-sapping Cultural Revolution—a 10-year reign of intellectual and societal devastation—was brought to an end. China opened itself to Western markets and the pragmatic inclusion of certain democratic economic principles. The Chinese economy—under the control of a renewed Communist Party—exploded with growth.
Soon the label “Made in China” adorned goods throughout the Western world. Cheap labor and subsidized costs made Chinese products ultra-competitive. Manufacturing of all shapes and sizes quickly made its way to the People’s Republic of China, where electronics—like laptops, tablets, smartphones, battery chargers and more—could be manufactured at a fraction of the cost required in Western countries.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party built itself into a domineering powerhouse ruling all of China.
Capitalists and policy makers saw new opportunities for trade and profit, complaining only when Communist policy required that intellectual property—the real value of any company or product—had to be shared in joint venture agreements.
The formerly economically weak China even became a regular customer for U.S. government bonds and related debt. Today China owns 15 percent—about $1.1 trillion—of the $7 trillion in U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds held by foreign countries.
A new global economic leader?
The result of all this astonishing economic growth? The United States, with its $21 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP), still leads the world. But China has now taken second place, with a GDP level topping $14 trillion. That’s far above third-place Japan, at around $5 trillion.
According to the World Bank, America’s slice of the global economy is 24.4 percent. China carves out 16.3 percent, followed by Japan at 5.7 and Germany at 4.4 (2020 figures).
With a pre-Covid-19 economic growth rate of an incredible 6 percent (America’s was then around 2 percent), China is expected to overtake America sometime this decade.
China has also dramatically extended its political and economic influence. In 2013, President Xi launched his foreign policy centerpiece—the globe-girdling Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
BRI invests and advances Chinese influence in some 70 countries. BRI’s stated objective is “to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets, through cultural exchange and integration, to enhance mutual understanding and trust of member nations.”
BRI has built billions of dollars of critical infrastructure in Asia and Africa, including power grids, roads, railways and education facilities. Using Chinese money as a primary currency, BRI openly seeks to reduce American influence and reliance on the U.S. dollar.
Such Chinese investment creates a “debt trap” that can bind and enslave third world countries and their assets, including rare metals needed to build and power computers and other critical modern technologies.
A catalyst for a more powerful European Union?
China’s global outreach has captured the attention of leaders and policymakers, including those in the European Union. All of this economic and political instability and intrigue spawns a great deal of concern.
Added to this, the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union may encourage others to follow. And America’s embarrassing abandonment of Afghanistan, leaving thousands of Westerners at the mercy of the Taliban, showed the world that America is an untrustworthy ally. How will the nations of the Continent react to these new realities?
Long-time readers of Beyond Today magazine and viewers of our sister TV/video program know that we have long drawn insight from critical biblical prophecies of the end time.
As the age of human self-rule under Satan’s influence draws to a close, the Bible reveals the emergence of a European-centered consortium of 10 national powers from which will arise a new global superpower that will surpass what both China and Russia have thus far been able to achieve.
Will threats of war or fierce economic conflict between China and America or other countries prod a revamped European Union to set aside its many differences and become a true dominant global force?
In the days ahead, understanding the Bible can—and will—light the way for those who seek the truth. Keep reading Beyond Today for critical insight, be vigilant and watch!
Taiwan: “The Most Dangerous Place in the World”
“Unifying Taiwan by force” has been a formal Chinese military policy for decades. Years ago, such a potential invasion of Taiwan by Chinese forces was widely derided as “the million-man swim,” due to the inability of the People’s Liberation Army and Navy to mount an invasion.
But no more. Host to the most vital and largest semiconductor fabrication plant in the world—the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)—Taiwan holds enormous strategic and economic value. As evidenced in the Covid-19-era semiconductor shortage and its impact on the global auto and other industries, the world’s economy literally depends on the availability of high-tech semiconductors. So much so that in early July 2021, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso openly declared, “Japan and the U.S. must defend Taiwan together.”
In concert with its treaty violations over the semi-independence of Hong Kong, China has escalated military intimidation, sending armed jets into Taiwanese airspace, parading destroyers and other ships in Taiwanese waters, and using cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns to undermine and weaken Taiwanese society. Its intentions seem deadly clear.
America has long been engaged in the promotion and protection of democracy in China. In 1945, following World War II, President Harry Truman sent then-popular five-star Gen. George Marshall to China to try to broker a peace between communists Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and the nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. The decades-long Chinese civil war escalated, Gen. Marshall returned home, and Chiang ultimately retreated to Taiwan, then a strategic island newly recovered from Japanese rule. In June 1950, Truman sent the USS Valley Forge, flagship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and its battle group into the Taiwan Strait between the mainland and the island as an expression of Truman’s new policy: America would defend Taiwan from attack.
Nearly 30 years later in January 1979, Taiwan was ousted from the United Nations and replaced by the People’s Republic of China, which became a permanent member of the powerful U.N. Security Council.
What’s on deck? In March 2021, U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson told U.S. lawmakers he believes China will attempt a takeover of Taiwan by 2027, declaring, “This problem is much closer to us than most think.” And the attempt may come much sooner, especially after the events in Afghanistan.
Proclaiming Taiwan as “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth” in its May 1, 2021 cover story, the British magazine The Economist noted that “the fall of Taiwan to China would be seen around Asia as the end of American predominance and even as ‘America’s Suez,’ a reference to the humbling of Britain when it overreached during the Suez Crisis of 1956.”
The danger if America stumbles in a Suez-like crisis? As a Hoover Institution podcast said, “There’s not another United States waiting in the wings.”