Last week, Taiwan held its largest ever preparedness exercise simulating some of the conditions a potential invasion of the island could create. Next week, it will be holding nation-wide air raid drills – further preparing its people for invasion.
This is the reality of a nation facing invasion from a belligerent and hostile power on its border. Much of its government’s time is spent preparing for that very real worst-case scenario of a Chinese invasion.
That scenario is only becoming more and more plausible as time goes on. Foreign policy from the West in recent years has been a fragile mess. Incomprehensibly, it has focused on appeasing and strengthening those ideologically set against the West to the detriment of those who would normally appear to be natural allies.
We can look at the truly astonishing decision-making behind the continuing insistence on trying to prop up the obviously flawed and failing JCPOA – a tacit acceptance of terrorist sponsoring Iran’s despotic regime in the face of Israel’s disbelief and clear disapproval.
Creating the JCPOA was a mistake but attempting to keep it going is an error of far greater magnitude. Once again, the West is signalling its weakness.
Then there is Europe’s bizarre fascination with handing itself over to be held hostage by a belligerent Russia’s control over its energy supplies. The West, led by the UK, may have responded well to the invasion, but that is no excuse.
The invasion should never have happened in the first place. Imagine if NATO had already been supplying Ukraine or had allowed it to join the defensive alliance. Consider whether Russia would have been so bold had Europe invested in nuclear power or alternative energy suppliers to Russian oil and gas.
It is not just our reliance on Russian oil and gas that should be of concern. Many in the West are simply blind to the hostility of foreign actors. It has taken a full invasion of a sovereign Ukraine for the penny to have dropped that perhaps being reliant on a hostile power is not a sensible decision. But that is only Russia,
Yet, there is far less interest in China’s dominance of certain markets such as rare earth metals or its neo-colonial holdings in Africa. There is little concern about its wholesale corporate espionage by ‘civilian’ businesses. In China, there is no such thing as all companies are obliged to give their information to the regime.
While the West has been celebrating the age of globalisation, China has been extending its influence around the world into critical sectors and markets. It has been preparing for the future, a future with a pre-eminent China. Many of the West’s largest companies have been captured by China’s market, with sizeable parts of their profits coming from China.
Under Xi Jinping, China is a nation ready to unleash itself upon the world in the pursuit of his ‘China Dream.’ First in line – Taiwan.
Will the West be ready to stand up for Taiwan? This is a calculation that China will be constantly considering. The West cannot allow China the room to make that decision. We must do all we can to support our allies and partners, especially those on the periphery of hostile states. We must never let what has happened to Ukraine happen again. We can and must do better.