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    Update on China-Taiwan relations: A 6-Month Outlook

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    The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its 20th National Congress on the 16th of October 2022. Following the event’s opening ceremony, the party’s General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech that solidified his administration’s stance on Taiwan. In essence, the goal to reunify Taiwan with China continues to be a priority of the CCP under its unwavering “One-China policy”. 

    Key Judgment 1: Despite President Xi stating that China will never promise to renounce using force, it is highly unlikely that Beijing will engage in a direct military confrontation with Taiwan in the next 6 months.

    • Xi’s speech signaled a greater desire to hold on to its “patient reunification policy” rather than introducing a new strategy [source]. This is because China believes its own economic power will pull Taiwan closer [source].
    • Taiwan’s current situation and the current economic environment still favor Beijing, thus Xi stated that “China will still insist on striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification” [source].
    • Reports show that Xi and the CCP understand a full invasion of Taiwan would be “a difficult task to carry out” and even counterproductive due to the potential sanctions Beijing would face [source].
    • China’s strategy is far from being military exclusive since it also includes economic, international, legal and diplomatic measures [source].
    • Its hegemonic position would enable Beijing to impose economic sanctions on Taiwan in the case of an unfavorable scenario [source]. 
    Taiwan conflict
    China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC) (source).

    Key Judgment 2: It is highly likely that any interference by foreign actors will likely hinder any chance of peaceful unification in the next 6 months.

    • The 20th National Congress’s speech focused more on Taiwan than the 19th National Congress in 2017 [source].
    • During his aforementioned speech, President Xi warned congress against foreign interference in Taiwan, thereby reserving the right for China to take all measures necessary to avoid it [source].
    • Furthermore, Xi emphasized China’s exclusivity in settling the Taiwan problem [source] and made it clear that Beijing needs to achieve “reunification and its consequent national rejuvenation” [source].
    • After US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, China has continued with its military activities within the Taiwan Strait, albeit at a reduced pace [source]. 
    • Despite the US being bound to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan, Washington no longer has a treaty obligation to defend Taipei [source]. 

    Key Judgment 3: If there is another “foreign intervention” or tacit support towards Taipei, it is highly likely that China will trigger a deterrence mechanism in the 6 months

    • Xi showed in the Congress a greater focus on China’s “territorial and sovereignity challenges” rather than on the flagging economy [source].
    • Amid the rising tension in the region, China has been carrying moves in order to “test” Japan’s and South Korea’s effective control over their respective air space [source] and [source], increasing tensions in the region
    • Pelosis’s visit to Taipei was considered hostile by Beijing, and the latter responded with its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, encircling the island and essentially blocking its shipping and air travel [source].

    Intelligence Cut Off Date 19 November 2022

    Ignacio Urrutia
    Ignacio Urrutia
    Ignacio is a Spanish intelligence analyst passionate and with deep knowledge of Central and Eastern Europe and MENA. As part of his Master in Security, Intelligence and Strategic Studies, he is specializing in intelligence, defence and new warfare.

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