COUNTDOWN TO WAR China ‘learning from Putin’s Ukraine disaster’ as regime prepares for all-out Taiwan blitz to ‘cut island off from US’

31 January 2023
Imogen Braddick

CHINA is preparing for an all-out blitz of Taiwan, a former US Department of Defence official has warned.

Michael Beckley said Xi Jinping will have learned from Putin’s disastrous mistakes in Ukraine and will aim to “hit Taiwan hard from the start” and “sever them from the outside world”.


On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said China is “learning lessons” from Putin’s invasion and warned: “What is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow.”


China regards the self-governing island as part of its territory and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland – by force if necessary.

Tensions between the two nations have hit boiling point in recent months, with Beijing continuing to flex its military muscles by launching jets into Taiwan’s airspace and firing missiles in haunting drills.


In November last year, the Chinese dictator ordered his troops to prepare for war – and some are predicting Beijing is “all but guaranteed” to attack Taiwan.

In a chilling warning, Michael, who advises US intelligence agencies, said China’s aggressive show of force is “not just for fun and games”.


Speaking on the Open to Debate formerly known as Intelligence Squared U.S. podcast, the Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University said: “It’s easy to say there won’t be a war when we’re sitting in New York. “If we were in Taipei, I would be a lot more nervous. “Peaceful unification options are disappearing very quickly for Beijing.  Most Chinese scholars say Chinese leaders have been determined to snuff out Taiwan one way or another.” We do have to be concerned that what China has been doing with the largest and most aggressive show of force is not just for fun and games. “This is actual preparation for a conflict… I don’t think it’s super likely, but I worry we’re too dismissive. These are nationalists who see it as making China whole again. “Xi Jinping has said the Taiwan issue cannot be passed down generation to generation. “A failed Chinese invasion of Taiwan will still kill a lot of people. “Can they win overall? Probably not. But can they deal the US a devastating blow from the outset? Yes.”


Michael said it’s possible Xi “might have commanders telling him it will be easy” to invade Taiwan. The defence expert said the Chinese army will have learned lessons from Putin’s shambolic war in Ukraine. And like Putin, Michael said he “would expect Xi Jinping to rattle the nuclear sabre”. “You just have to worry if pull comes to shove, Xi Jinping might just pull the trigger,” he said. “With a dictator, you never know… there are factors that could bring this to a head very quickly. “It might not be a full-scale invasion – it might be economic meddling, political coercion.”


“What China has been doing with the largest and most aggressive show of force is not just for fun and games”

– Michael BeckleyFormer US Department Of Defence Official


Taiwan is feared to be a major flashpoint between the Washington and Beijing – with a potential invasion forcing the US to either abandon the island or face full scale war with China.


On Sunday, Republican Mike McCaul said the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan are “very high”. He said if China failed to take control of Taiwan bloodlessly then “they are going to look at a military invasion in my judgement”. It came after General Mike Minihan, head of the US Air Mobility Command, wrote in a memo: “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”

Michael said the US and Taiwan have been slow to respond to China’s vast military expansion. “They are coming off a decade of really ramping up their military capabilities – and the US and Taiwan have been slow to respond,” he said. “As someone who works closely with the US government, I would like to have seen faster responses from Taiwan and Japan.”


President and founder of Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, said a war with Taiwan is “not very likely to happen in the next few years”. But the author didn’t rule out the scenario.


“China is going to be checked militarily by many countries in the region, and the US,” Ian said. “The Chinese is aware of that, and they don’t want to get in a direct fight militarily. “The Chinese aren’t being stupid about trying to engage in a military confrontation with the US and their allies.”


He added: “Their ability to get Taiwanese business people to change their orientation politically or else they will be cut down is a lever the Chinese have. “Putin is a leader making massive misjudgements on the global stage – I don’t see Xi doing that. “I don’t see the Chinese government itching for a global fight – with the exception of the reunification of Taiwan.” While Beijing may be preparing for a lightning war to storm across the Taiwan Strait and capture the island, experts have said the war could be anything but quick.  With tough beaches, rocky terrain, well-drilled defenders, and unforgiving seas, China could face the same brutal grinding warfare that Russia is facing in Ukraine. Taking Taiwan could even require Beijing to muster a force of two million troops, it’s been claimed.


Last year, new photos revealed for the first time just how far China’s militarisation has escalated in the South China Sea.

Chilling images showed the massive sprawl of Chinese military operations on the man-made islands – which are armed to the teeth with deadly hardware including missile aircraft, flight hangars, and spy planes. The largest of the islands in the archipelago, Taiping Island, is currently controlled by Taiwan – which is at the centre of invasion plans being drawn up by Beijing.

The full debate between Michael Beckley and Ian Bremmer will be released on the Intelligence Squared US podcast on February 17.