Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts Taiwan on high alert over mainland China threat

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts Taiwan on high alert over mainland China threat

March 10, 2022

We are watching a war in real-time: Hemmer

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent jitters across Taiwan, as military strategists and lawmakers prepare for the possibility – however far-reaching – of a similar invasion from mainland China. 

Last month, as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, nine Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense zone, prompting a broadcast warning from the island nation. 

In this Oct. 10, 2021, file photo, Taiwanese soldiers salute during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei, Taiwan. 
(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Military strategists in Taiwan are closely studying Ukrainians as they’ve mounted a fierce resistance against a more formidable opponent despite being outgunned and outmanned. 

According to some estimates, China spends more than $250 billion on its annual military budget, while Taiwan spends around $13 billion. 

Still, the setback for Russia has been encouraging to many in Taiwan. Taiwanese lawmaker Lin Chu-Yin told Bloomberg this week that “Putin’s war sends a signal to China that it won’t be as easy to take Taiwan as it imagines.”

“And it also breaks the myth that one can easily defeat another smaller or militarily weaker country with missiles,” he said. 

A satellite image shows ground forces equipment and a convoy, in Khilchikha, Belarus February 28, 2022. 
(Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS)

Meanwhile, Ma Cheng-Kun, director of the Graduate Institute of China Military Affairs Studies at Taiwan’s National Defense University told Reuters this week that Taiwan’s military has been developing mobile weapons similar to the ones used by Ukraine to push back Russian forces. 

“From Ukraine’s performance, we can be even more confident in our own,” Ma said. 

Taiwan said it planned to double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year. The announcement from the defense ministry came after Taiwan approved an extra $8.6 billion for military spending over the next five years. 

Tensions were mounting between China and Taiwan well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China has for decades regarded Taiwan as a renegade breakaway state. 

Taiwan and China split in 1949 and China has been increasing pressure on the self-ruled nation, while opposing its involvement in international organizations. The U.S. does not formally recognize Taiwan but maintains an unofficial alliance.

BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 1, 2019: DF-17 Dongfeng medium-range ballistic missiles equipped with a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, involved in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Republic. 
(Photo by Zoya RusinovaTASS via Getty Images)

The U.S. and its western allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting the country’s banking and financial sectors. However, it’s unclear how far these countries would be willing to go against China, given that it plays a more dominant role in the global economy.  

Many leaders in Taiwan have also questioned how committed the U.S. would be if a conflict with Beijing were to escalate. 

“If the world does not defend Taiwan, the whole order of things – especially in the Pacific – starts to change,” retired CSM former Green Beret George Fraser told Fox News. “After Afghanistan and Ukraine, what country would trust an alliance with the U.S. or any other western nation. China would rise as the strategic power in the region and be on its way to supplanting the U.S. in its position as a global leader.” 

Still, others believe Beijing may be more apprehensive about any moves against Taiwan in the near future, given the chaotic effects of Russia’s military aggression. The war has rattled stock markets and pushed gas prices to unprecedented levels. 

Signage with fuel prices at a Shell gas station in Hercules, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. 
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Beijing has refused to condemn Russia for the invasion, despite growing pressure from the U.S. and the European Union to use its influence to rein Moscow in. 

Russia has said it endorses China’s view of self-governing Taiwan as an “inalienable part of China, and opposes any form of independence of Taiwan,” while China has backed Russia in opposing the further enlargement of NATO. 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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