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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 11-Oct-2021
11-Oct-21 World View -- Tensions heat up between China and Taiwan

Web Log - October, 2021

11-Oct-21 World View -- Tensions heat up between China and Taiwan

When will the Chinese Communists invade Taiwan?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Taiwan celebrates 'Taiwan National Day'

Isabel Zhang was born in mainland China, while her husband James Xu is Taiwanese.  The Australian couple are worried about their respective families in case of war (Australian Broadcasting)
Isabel Zhang was born in mainland China, while her husband James Xu is Taiwanese. The Australian couple are worried about their respective families in case of war (Australian Broadcasting)

On October 10, 1911, the Wuchang Uprising began, launching the Chinese Revolution and forming the Chinese Nationalists, led by Sun Yat-Sen. He created the Republic of China based on his "Three Principles of the People," developed in 1905 -- nationalism, democracy and welfare. Later in the century, the Chinese Communists, led by Mao Zedong, defeated the Chinese Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, in the Chinese civil war that climaxed in 1949. Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalists fled to Formosa and formed the nation of Taiwan. On Sunday, October 10, Taiwan celebrated the anniversary of the uprising that led to the Republic of China.

Beijing prefers to celebrate its own China National Day on October 1, which commemorates the creation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The Chinese Communists hate Taiwan's National Day, and this has led to dueling rhetoric.

Taiwan celebrated with huge parades highlighted by military equipment. Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen said the following:

"We will do our utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally altered.

We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us.

The path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people."

China sends hundreds of fighter planes and bombers into Taiwan airspace

During the past few days, the Chinese Communists have sent hundreds of fighter planes and bombers into Taiwan airspace. China's state media explained this aerial invasion in this way:

"According to statistics from Taiwan island, the PLA has sent warplanes into the island's "airspace" in 198 days so far this year. Such a number reflects that the PLA has carried out wide-ranged and profound operations to familiarize itself with battlefield conditions, with a large number of PLA Air Force units having experience flying close to the island. Once the order to attack is given, the PLA's pilots will fight as "experienced veterans." ...

The PLA is forming a siege of Taiwan with a show of strength as it did in Beijing in 1949. There is no doubt about the future of the situation across the Taiwan Straits. The initiative of when and how to solve the Taiwan question is firmly in the hands of the Chinese mainland."

Well, that's an interesting historical comparison. They're relating the "siege" of Taiwan to a siege that the Communists used to defeat the Nationalists in 1949.

So the Communists say that the purpose of sending hundreds of warplanes over Taiwan is to allow their pilots to gain experience and become "experienced veterans." There are two possible interpretations of this. One is that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is imminent, and the other is that the current incursions are merely practice for a future invasion to occur sometime in the future.

That the Communists intend to invade Taiwan is certain. China has repeatedly declared the intention to invade Taiwan and annex it to China.

Last week, as the hundreds of warplanes were threatening Taiwan, Communist leader Xi Jinping said the following:

"Taiwan independence separatism is the biggest obstacle to achieving the reunification of the motherland, and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation. ...

Reunification through a peaceful manner is the most in line with the overall interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots. ...

No one should underestimate the Chinese people's staunch determination, firm will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled."

Xi Jinping is running out of time

Xi's problem is that, in many ways, he's running out of time, mostly for generational reasons.

Until the 1990s, the Nationalists ruled Taiwan, and most Taiwanese believed that it was only a matter of time before Taiwan would be reunitied with the mainland, although many would have demanded that the Nationalists govern the reunited country.

Since then, the survivors of the 1940s civil war have died off, and new generations have grown and come to power. A major turning point was the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which the citizens of Taiwan watched with horror. This led to the rise of the nominally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose leader is the current president Tsai Ing-wen. As the new generations have come to power, and young people displace old people, more and more people oppose reunification. In recent years, Beijing's brutal treatment of Hong Kong has reinforced this opposition. According to polls, fewer than 10% of the people today favor reunification, and many of those would agree to reunification only if mainland China became a democratic country, something that's not going to happen.

So Xi Jinping is running out of time in Taiwan, but he's also running out of time on the mainland. Younger generations are increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic, and are demanding that Xi Jinping stop stalling and take action in Taiwan.

China's disastrous one-child policy produces harsh consequences

The one-child policy, adopted in 1979, has been a disaster for China. Women who had unapproved pregnancies could be violently dragged from their homes and forced to abort and be sterilized. If an unapproved child was born, then the child could not be registered, and essentially did not exist, so could not get schooling or other social benefits.

The policy accelerated the aging of the population, and a decline in the working-age population, which threatens economic growth. Furthermore, with fewer children, fewer elderly people could be cared for by their children. In 2015 there were eleven working age Chinese for every retiree. By 2050, if not earlier, there will only be two for each retiree.

In addition, parents often aborted girl babies, since they wanted their one child to be a boy. The result is that millions of young males have been unable to find a wife, and so females are enticed or coerced (kidnapped by criminal gangs) to become wives of Chinese men who have no other options, which is raising tensions with China's neighbors.

The result is that the number of elderly people is growing, while the population as a whole is shrinking. This puts a strain on the country's pension system, and creates a constantly shrinking labor force. China is already finding it difficult to fill many difficult jobs, including jobs in the military, resulting in lower GDP growth.

There are other domestic problems facing Xi Jinping. The collapse of Evergrande is spreading and could have far-reaching consequences, including outside of China. (See "25-Sep-21 World View -- China Evergrande construction firm heads to default")

Internationally, China is facing criticism about its brutal crackdown on the free press in Hong Kong, China's arrest and enslavement of millions of Uighurs, and illegal belligerent actions in the South China Sea. The Chinese Communists have made it abundantly clear that they don't care at all what others think of them, and what international laws they violate. What we're seeing is the millennia-old Chinese culture saying that the rest of the world are barbarians, and are to be treated as donkeys, with no purpose except to serve the Chinese Communists.

Taiwan's friends -- America, Japan, Australia, India

According to analysts, China would prevail in an invasion of Taiwan, although Taiwan would inflict a great deal of damage on China at the same time. However, that assumes that Taiwan would fight Taiwan alone.

By the way, to my knowledge nobody supports China's invasion of Taiwan. Cambodia and Pakistan are close allies with China, but I'm not aware that they or any other country would join China in an invasion of Taiwan.

However, there are several countries that are likely to help defend Taiwan.

The most obvious friend is the United States, and it's debated endlessly whether the US would defend Taiwan, or would just stand by and allow Taiwan to be swallowed up by China. My personal belief is that this would constitute a "generational regeneracy" event (regenerating civic unity behind the president), and we would be at war with China within a few hours or days.

America has been helping Taiwan to defend itself, mainly by providing weapons systems. In the last few days, it was reported that about two dozen U.S. troops have been deployed to Taiwan for at least the last year to train local military forces to bolster the island's defenses. The special operators have worked with Taiwanese ground troops and the Marines have worked with maritime forces on small-boat operations.

Taiwan has other friends, most notably Japan. As I've been writing for years, China has been thirsting for a war with Japan in revenge for the atrocities (chemical warfare, rape of Nanking) committed by Japan on China during World War II. Furthermore, and nationalism and xenophobia have increased in both countries, and there are now signs that the Japanese are thirsting for a new war with the Chinese. It shouldn't take long for both thirsts to be quenched.

One trigger for a Japanese war with China would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Although Japan has a "pacifist" constitution, in 2015 the law was reinterpreted to permit Japanese forces to defend an ally (Taiwan or the US) as "collective self-defense," provided that Japan's government determined that the war was a security threat that threatened Japan's own survival. For example, the Japanese might view the invasion of Taiwan as a stepping-stone to a planned invasion of Japan. (See "28-Jun-21 World View -- Japan's plans for defending Taiwan from an attack by China")

Beyond Japan, there is also the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, linking the United States, Japan, India and Australia, This grouping does not have any military commitments, but it will hold talks to "hold China accountable."

The Beijing Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will begin on Friday, February 4, and end on Sunday, February 20. This is an interesting milepost in the discussions of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

On the one hand, the Olympics games are a matter of enormous prestige for the Chinese Communists, and they would not want to besmirch the games by an untoward event, like a major war. This suggests that any planned invasion of Taiwan would have to come after February 20.

On the other hand, it's expected that there will be substantial boycotts of the games, for two reasons. One reason is that China is actively committing genocide, ethnic cleansing and enslavement of millions of Muslim Uighurs, and many people will boycott in protest. The second reason is that China kidnaps and jails foreigners without charges in order to gain political advantage, in a policy known as "hostage diplomacy," and many people want to stay away from China for fear of being held hostage to some political dispute.

When will the Chinese Communists invade Taiwan?

Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen both upped rhetoric this past week, in celebration of the "National Days" for China and Taiwan, respectively, with China going much farther by launching hundreds of warplanes to fly over Taiwan.

There is enormous and growing pressure on Xi Jinping to do something to solve the Taiwan problem. However, I agree with those analysts who say that Xi cannot risk an invasion at this time (or at any time, really) because the results would be too unpredictable and potentially catastrophic. So you have the "pressure cooker" analogy, where you don't know when the pressure will be too great, but you know that the pressure has to blow at some point. Or maybe you prefer the "straw that breaks the camel's back" analogy where you know that if you keep piling on straw, then eventually a straw will break the camel's back, though you don't know in advance which one.

As I've written in the past, crisis wars begin with a chaotic unexpected event. World War I began because a 12-year-old high school student decided in 1914 that it would be fun to shoot an Archduke. WW II began in 1937 because a Japanese soldier had to pee and got lost in the woods. Those wars were a complete surprise, even to the belligerents. That's how WW III will begin. It will be totally irrational, insane and unexpected, and it could happen any day.


During the last two weeks, I've been moved to a new apartment, and I still can't figure out where many things are in the new apartment. At the same time, my computer's hard disk crashed, though fortunately I had everything backed up. All of this has been extremely overwhelming, and it turns out that at age 77 it's even more so, when everything happens at once.

So anyway, anyone who wants to contact me by snail mail should use my new address, which is the same as my old address, except for the apartment number:

John J. Xenakis
100 Memorial Drive Apt 2-03C [New apartment number]
Cambridge, MA 02142

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99 Complete Table of Contents


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