(Dangerous) parallels between Russia and China in Ukraine and Taiwan

(To Antonino Lombardi)

Russia and China see the Western response to the military invasion of Ukraine and the threats of a future invasion of Taiwan as an indicator of the state of US global power. A weak response, or a perception of weakness, could cause further uncertainty.

The two world powers see Ukraine and Taiwan respectively as parts of their homelands. In Russia, Ukraine is defined as a "Russian land" and there is a clear desire to unite the Russian world and the Russian people as a whole. China claims Taiwan as its province to the extent that it adopted the "anti-secession law" at the third session of the 14th National People's Congress on March 2005, 2. This edict in article XNUMX reports "Cis only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to a single China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity do not tolerate divisions. Safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a common obligation of all Chinese people, including Taiwanese compatriots. Taiwan is part of China. " The next article clearly states that "Resolving the Taiwan issue and achieving national reunification is China's internal business, which is not subject to interference from outside forces."

Russian and Chinese revanchism runs far deeper than the West previously assumed and, in February 2022, this led Russia to take the unprecedented step of launching a total military invasion of Ukraine. The threat posed by Beijing to Taiwan is comparable to that presented to Ukraine by Moscow, with the expressed intention of using force in the event that Taiwan moves away from a "unitary China" policy.

The reconstruction of the Russian world after the reconnection of Crimea e de facto of Belarus, necessarily passes, according to the Kremlin, through the conquest of Ukraine. The first "justifying" move of the Russian plan that led to the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was to recognize, three days earlier, the "autonomy" of the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk by uncovering the initials and true intentions.

Already in 2008, the Russian president had expressed territorial claims on south-eastern Ukraine in Bucharest at a NATO summit based on the Russian opinion that Ukrainians are one of the three branches of the Russian people. The Kremlin sees any entry into NATO or the EU by former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia an intrusion.

For China, the separation of Taiwan which could declare its independence and thus do away with "one China" is a cause for deep concern. In other Chinese regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet the use of strict policies and military force has enabled Beijing to achieve its goals, which it cannot do in Taiwan. No direct military action was taken, a consequence of both geography and politics, unlike Russia in Ukraine, but Chinese provocations near the island are not lacking.

The hypothesis of a Chinese attack and a consequent intervention by the United States to rescue Taipei, as happened in Ukraine, does not seem at the moment a hypothesis in the field hypothesis in the field but a global geopolitical change is underway that could leave room for further "settlements".

The attitudes of Russia and China towards Ukraine and Taiwan can assimilate but the methods used to achieve reunification have been very different up to now.

One, for example, could be the different influence the United States has on Ukraine compared to Taiwan. The Taiwan Relations Act requires the United States to provide Taipei with defense and defense capabilities "resist any use of force" in an attempt to destabilize the island. This should be distinguished from the security assurances provided by the United States (along with the United Kingdom and Russia) in the Budapest Memorandum 1994. The United States never made a commitment to defend Ukraine with troops. At least until now ...

Earlier this year, Beijing abstained in a UN Security Council vote to denounce the Russian invasion and, in a session of the United Nations General Assembly, stated that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected".

Their current close relations are mainly based on the deterioration of relations with the West and the rejection of the monopolar global order. Russia and China are strong supporters of the nation-state and oppose the loss of state sovereignty due to multinational institutions and globalization. Their relationship is based more on their anti-Americanism than on anything else, and this too is limited; despite an internal "regime" policy, Beijing does not violate the rules of international law like Russia.

We can say that Russia and China see their respective conflicts to some extent as proxy conflicts with the West, and particularly the United States. In their eyes, the United States is a US power in decline, internally divided and committed to various crisis fronts, suffice it to recall the poor response to the coronavirus pandemic, political divisions and the "disorderly" withdrawal from Afghanistan that thwarted twenty years of war.

Photo: Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China / web