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Experts: China Learning from Russian War in Ukraine

FILE - A Chinese J-10 fighter jet is being guided on the tarmac following a flight demonstration at China's 13th International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, in Zhuhai, in southern China's Guangdong province, Sept. 28, 2021. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)
Experts: China Learning from Russian War in Ukraine
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Experts on China believe it is studying Russia’s war in Ukraine to improve its own battle plans and policies connected to Taiwan. It has long claimed the island as Chinese land that is partly self-ruled.

Russia makes similar claims about parts of Ukraine and gave such reason for invading the independent country February 24.

Russia has faced much stronger resistance in Ukraine than expected. International economic sanctions have weakened Russia’s effort and foreign military aid has strengthened Ukraine’s defense.

Some experts think China is looking at ways to take full control of Taiwan quickly. They think the military will attack the island’s communications centers and major political institutions.

An attack by sea is more complex, suggests Chen Yi-fan. He is an assistant professor of diplomacy and international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan. He says China would require more preparation and weaponry, “such as artillery and missiles” attacking from the sea.

“Most importantly,” Chen said, “China needs to command the moral high ground through cognitive warfare and media discourse,” he said.

Talks between China and Taiwan ended in failure in 2016 after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took office. Her political party opposes unification with China. Chinese air force planes fly through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone almost every day.

China has never ruled out using force to unite the two sides.

Alexander Huang is chairman of a military strategy research center in Taipei. He said China would look for a battle centered on disabling military systems and the ousting of Taiwanese leadership.

Like the rest of the world, China is witnessing the world’s reaction to Russia’s invasion and war in Ukraine. Chinese officials are likely rethinking their predictions on how the world might treat China if it attacked Taiwan, says Tong Zhao. He is with the Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.

China is very surprised by the West’s reaction to the war, Zhao says. “I think this shows that even … Russian experts ... didn't know there was going to be such strong international support to Ukraine. I think Chinese experts are starting to reevaluate these strategies and policies.”

China depends more on foreign countries for economic strength than Russia does. China exported almost 15 percent of the world’s total manufactured goods from 1978 to 2020, U.N. estimates show.

Officials in Beijing are probably seeking a nonmilitary solution to the dispute, Alexander Huang said. Taiwan and China have disagreed since 2016 on how to treat each other - as separate countries, parts of China or something else.

The Ukraine war has signaled to China that disaster could result from a failed military solution.

“That,” Huang said, “might lead Beijing to think more about other measures….”

I’m Caty Weaver.

Ralph Jennings reported on this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver edited it.


Words in This Story

cognitive – adj. of, relating to, or being conscious intellectual activity, such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, or learning words)

discourse – n. conversation; a long talk or essay about a subject

reevaluate – v. to evaluate something or someone again, especially with regard to changes or new information

strategy – n. a carefully developed plan or method for achieving a goal or the skill in developing and undertaking such a plan or method