China, Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan
Last night in a discussion with a friend, amid the endless news about Ukraine, and a world irrevocably changed in the past two weeks, had both of us questioning how China fits into this puzzle.
I won’t claim to have insight into this because I do not have a clear picture of what I think is happening. And doing a deep dive across the news, I see other writers trying to puzzle it out too. Deciphering whose interests are affecting those of the others. The players are obviously Russia and China, and their targets Ukraine and Taiwan, with the US and EU carefully watching.
There is the simplistic surface so far: Russia has attacked Ukraine with a massive show of force, but it is not going well at all. China, their sometime ally, is warily watching the world’s response to gauge how it might react to their desired invasion of Taiwan. In both cases the belligerent nations believe or profess to believe that their target is a former part of their country and must rejoin them.
Whether they want to or not. And they most definitely do not.
The scenarios have similarities. The aggressors and their targets share languages and historic cultures. But Ukraine and Taiwan have long chosen to be sovereign democracies, unlike their totalitarian enemies. They look to the West and aspire to participate as free countries with free speech and the ability to define their own story.
China watches and may not like what they see so far. The Western alliances are not just holding, they are in near lockstep to stop Russia and support Ukraine with waves of sanctions and weapons. Putin made a bet that Trump’s attempts to dismantle NATO and US foreign policy had greatly weakened their resolve. He has been proven startlingly wrong.
Seemingly overnight, the West, and Asian partners like Japan and South Korea, have discovered the power they wield, especially their economic power. The reality is that it is not an overnight discovery, it is the result of the Biden administration’s ongoing push to revive the unity achieved during the Cold War.
This has proven disastrous to the Russian economy, but it is very bad news for China too. They are probably doing some serious rethinking of their plans…