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China's Military Intentions Are Clear — And Arming Taiwan Is The Only Deterrence

China is spending more money on weapons and defense than ever. The reason is evident: Xi Jinping wants to take Taiwan. Europe should follow the U.S. and support Taipei militarily as the only way to deter Beijing from war.

Photo of Military drills in Taiwan amid rising China-U.S. Tensions

Taiwanese soldiers stand guard at a base during a military drill simulating defense operations against a possible Chinese PLA intrusion

Gregor Schwung


BERLIN — Fear is never the best advisor.

It is, however, an understandable emotion when China announces the biggest increase in its defense budget in memory. And when Beijing does so after siding with Russia in the Ukraine war with its supposed "peace plan" and justifying the increase with an alleged "escalating oppression" of China in the world.

The budget plan unveiled by outgoing Premier Li Keqiang calls for a 7.2% increase in defense spending. That's more than in previous years — and just the official figure.

Experts estimate the true spending is much higher, as Beijing finances its military through numerous shadow budgets.

The Stockholm-based peace research institute Sipri, for example, calculates that the budget is 25 to 50% larger than stated.

Claim on Taiwan

China also leaves the world in the dark as to what it actually spends the money on. What is clear is that Beijing has been working for years on modernizing its military. According to Beijing's plans, it is to be transformed into a "world-class" force by 2050.

Ideology is now more important to Xi than maintaining prosperity.

Why it needs to transform itself becomes apparent when one listens to how Beijing talks about Taiwan.

For example, a white paper published in October spoke of the "same blood" that binds Chinese and Taiwanese people together. And at this year's Munich Security Conference, chief diplomat Wang Yi blatantly denied Taiwan's independence: "It has never been a country and will never be a country in the future."

Photo of China's Great Hall of the People

The Central Military Band of the People's Liberation Army of China at the Great Hall of the People.

Mil.ru via Wikimedia Commons

Case for deterrence 

This rhetoric makes clear how ideologically driven Xi Jinping's foreign policy has become.

The fact that the increase in the defense budget is now larger than that of other expenditures and is also higher than the projected economic growth of 5% shows that ideology is now more important to him than maintaining prosperity.

In this respect, we must expect that China will not be deterred from attacking Taiwan by threats of economic consequences alone.

The United States has understood this. They now want to station up to 200 U.S. soldiers on the island to train Taiwanese troops. Washington is thus driving up the military costs destined for Beijing taking into account what such an attack would entail.

Europe, too, should offer military support to Taiwan, because deterrence is the only thing that ultimately can keep Xi from going to war.

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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