The Chinese Lessons of the Russian War by Kevin Rudd

For Chinese President Xi Jinping, a Marxist-Leninist dialectician, events in Ukraine will not fundamentally alter China’s great historical rise. Edifyingly, Russia’s military failures will simply push the Chinese leadership to make even more substantial preparations before seizing Taiwan.

MELBOURNE — Following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, two views quickly emerged in the West on what lesson China would learn from the war. The first suggested that NATO’s failure to deter Russia – or directly defend Ukraine – would prompt China to advance the timetable for a planned invasion of Taiwan, or even capitalize on the chaos caused by the war. to attack the island immediately. But after the Russian military encountered significant and unexpected early challenges, another line of analysis emerged suggesting that China has now been significantly deterred from attempting to take Taiwan.

Both of these views are superficial, misleading and simply wrong. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not the kind of leader to let himself be sidelined from his preferred path by anything or anyone, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. He and the rest of the Chinese leadership will certainly learn military and financial lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine. But China will not speed up or postpone its preferred timetable because of what it will see happening on the battlefields of Donbass.

Nor will Xi’s determination to win back Taiwan change because of everything he sees happening in Asia, by the way. Taiwan’s separation from the motherland has always symbolized the era of Chinese weakness at the hands of Japanese imperialism. For the Chinese Communist Party, the existence of a Taiwanese administration outside the control of the government in Beijing is a raw and festering wound. Indeed, the reunification of Taiwan with the motherland is at the heart of Xi’s promise to complete Mao Zedong’s revolution. This makes reunification essential both to the CCP’s political legitimacy and to Xi’s own deification within the CCP pantheon.

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