As the Russian military offensive reaches the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Communist China is watching the U.S. and Western response as a test case for its ambitions to annex Taiwan.
With the world’s media occupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese air force staged an incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone. “Eight Chinese fighter jets and one reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday … intruded into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone,” the English language daily Taiwan News confirmed.
Emboldened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the leading Chinese Communist Party propagandist, Hu Xijin, told Taiwan to “get used to” such acts of aggression.
Get used to it. There may be more PLA aircraft fly there tomorrow. https://t.co/viU4vlEye5
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) February 24, 2022
The military maneuver comes exactly a month after China staged a large scale aerial intrusion, which included nuclear-capable bombers, into Taiwanese airspace. Beijing sent “eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets” into Taiwan, the Associated Press noted on January 24. “[A]nother 16 military aircraft of various types” took part in that maneuver, the news agency added.
The Taiwanese defense ministry fears that China could launch a “full-scale invasion” of Taiwan as early as 2025.
Reuters reported the lasted Chinese air incursion:
Taiwan’s air force scrambled again on Thursday to warn away nine Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, Taiwan’s defence ministry said, on the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine, a crisis being watched closely in Taipei. (…)
The number of aircraft involved was well off the last large-scale incursion, 39 Chinese aircraft on Jan. 23, and since then, such fly-bys have been sporadic with far fewer aircraft.
The ministry said the latest mission involved eight Chinese J-16 fighters and one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft, which flew over an area to the northeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top end of the South China Sea.
Taiwanese fighters were sent up to warn the Chinese aircraft and air defence missiles were deployed to “monitor the activities”, the ministry said, using standard wording for how Taiwan describes its response.
China Shields Putin from U.S., Western Sanctions
A day after the Biden administration, European Union, and several Western countries announced a series of economic sanctions on Russia, China stepped up to cushion Putin’s regime against these measures.
“China is ready to throw Russia an economic lifeline as Vladimir Putin’s ties with the west deteriorate and Moscow is hit by snowballing sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine,” Britain’s Financial Times noted on Thursday.
The UK business daily detailed Beijing’s support for Putin’s regime:
In response to the latest sanctions on Russia, Beijing reaffirmed its opposition to “all illegal unilateral sanctions”.
“Since 2011, the US has imposed more than 100 sanctions on Russia,” Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters in Beijing. (…)
Russia is by far Beijing’s biggest recipient of loans from official sector institutions, totalling as much as $151bn between 2000 and 2017, according to AidData, an international research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.
That included $86bn of non-concessional and semi-concessional debt from China’s state-owned policy banks and commercial banks — mostly loans collateralised against future receipts from oil exports.
Chinese Propaganda Machine at Putin’s Service
Beijing instructed the state-run media to support Moscow’s planned military aggression against Ukraine ahead of the Russian invasion. China will need Kremlin’s backing in “wrestling with America” on its ambitions to annex Taiwan, accidentally leaked orders to the Chinese news outlets show.
A leading “Chinese state-run media outlet accidentally published editorial “instructions” on how to cover the escalating crisis and a senior editor had urged China to “back up” Russia so that it could get support on the Taiwan issue,” UK newspaper The Independent reported on Friday.
The Independent revealed a Chinese directive to state-run media.
Chinese state-run news outlet Horizon News had appeared to accidentally publish editorial “instructions” on its Weibo page for pro-Russia reporting and how to cover the invasion to show Russia in a positive light. (…)
Ming Jinwei, who is a senior editor at Xinhua News Agency, wrote on his WeChat blog, just days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, that it would be in Chinese interest to support Russia because the former would need Moscow’s support on the Taiwan issue.
“China has to back Russia up with emotional and moral support while refraining from treading on the toes of the US and EU,” Mr Ming said (…).
“In the future, China will also need Russia’s understanding and support when wrestling with America to solve the Taiwan issue once and for all.”
China, Russia Forge Military Alliance Against U.S. and West
With President Biden in the White House, China and Russia are openly forging a military axis to counter the U.S. and Western allies. “China and Russia are edging closer to a de facto military alliance,” the South China Morning Post reported on November 24, 2021. The cement this alliance, both countries “signed a road map for closer military cooperation over the next five years,” the newspaper added.
The emerging China-Russia axis poses a serious threat to the U.S. and global security. The combined China-Russia military budget surpasses U.S. defense spending. According to recent estimates, the Chinese and Russian defense budgets are roughly $604 and $200 billion respectively. The U.S. defense expenditure is currently pegged at $740 billion.
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