Xi Xinping’s mishandling of the Hong Kong situation was prime time viewing in Taiwan and around the world.
There it was, for all to see — China’s aggression, its broken promises to the United Kingdom, and its crackdown on human rights and free speech.
Something that was entirely and completely unnecessary — bringing Hong Kong to heel achieved nothing except tarnish China’s image abroad.
Let’s face it, chairman Xi could not have done a better job of telegraphing exactly why Taiwan should never, ever succumb to Communist Chinese rule.
For many Taiwanese, the crackdown on Hong Kong offered a window onto what may come if Taiwan reunifies with the mainland, according to a report by Alex Littlefield & Adam Lowther in Real Clear Defense.
It should come as no surprise, then, that support for reunification is at an all-time low among Taiwanese, with around 90% in opposition.
It should also come as no surprise, that there is discussion of restarting Taiwan’s covert nuclear weapons program — that, and only that, would make China wake up and take notice.
Two years ago, President Xi Jinping publicly declared that China would use force to ensure Taiwan’s reunification if it refused to go peacefully, the report said.
Since then, the People’s Liberation Army has expanded its sabre-rattling harassment and testing of Taiwan’s defences through naval, air and cyber aggression.
A nuclear-weaponized Taiwan, would be a game-changer in that respect.
To be blunt, knowing that several of China’s major cities would be reduced to cinders, if PLA troops landed on Taiwan’s shores, would no doubt spill some tea in Beijing.
For those who have forgotten, during the 1970s, Taiwan produced plutonium for its indigenous weapons program, the report said.
While plutonium production was halted because of American pressure in 1976, the military government in Taiwan continued with its secret nuclear weapons program until the 1980s, which included a successful nuclear reaction.
Taiwan is already a latent nuclear power. The move to nuclear weapons would not take long given its current materials and technical capacity, the report said.
It already has two operational nuclear power plants on opposite ends of the island that could produce plutonium. It could use a “Japan option” of enriching its radioactive materials for weaponization in a short timeframe.
It’s not rocket science — as the PLA rachets up pressure on Taiwan to reunify, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and her successor will likely find themselves in a position where they must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the continued independence of a free and democratic Taiwan — either in coordination with the US or independently.
Its only option for survival could be to take a page from the Israeli playbook and restart its covert nuclear weapons program.
Israel possesses at least 80 and as many as 400 nuclear warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a leading think tank on global security issues.
Having stated that, the world will change — hopefully for the best — on January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Unquestionably, the People’s Republic of China’s escalating aggression towards Taiwan will be among the administration’s greatest strategic challenges, the report said.
It’s also very likely Biden and the Pentagon will not want to see another nation become armed with nuclear weapons — the world already has too many.
However, there’s little time to formulate a China policy, though it’s clear his administration’s approach to Beijing could have long-term implications for stability and peace in Asia, the report said.
Decisions made by the Biden administration will likely play a role in determining whether war between China and Taiwan becomes a reality and the lengths to which Taiwan feels it must go to defend its freedom.
Another major factor — much like his pal up north in Russia, Xi is proving a better authoritarian than any of his post-Mao predecessors, and the 2018 decision of the National People’s Congress to remove term limits enables him to remain president and party chair indefinitely.
Bad news for the world, bad news for China … and bad news for Taiwan.
According to China expert Michael Pillsbury, author of The hundred-year marathon, the Chinese Communist Party intends to integrate Hong Kong and Taiwan back into China in time to achieve “Middle Kingdom” status by 2049 — the centennial of the CCP’s victory over the Guomindang in the Chinese civil war.
Would a nuclear-armed Taiwan deter the PRC from an invasion?
History suggests that once Taiwan has nuclear weapons, the PRC will become much less aggressive towards it — making the development of nuclear weapons more attractive.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, despite its tense relations with the mainland, represents the anti-nuclear movement within Taiwan, the report said.
However, views change when survival is at stake.
It’s also worth noting that the US has never invaded a nuclear-armed adversary — a fact not lost on the Taiwanese.
Create a nuclear weapon, and the rest of the world will fear you.