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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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Will David Cameron’s Ties With China Compromise His Return As Foreign Secretary?

David Cameron's reentry into British politics as the UK's new foreign minister is being lauded by Chinese state media as a significant boost for Sino-UK relations. There is a good reason that Beijing is happy to see the former Prime Minister.

Photo of David Cameron walking down a hallway in Downing Street

David Cameron in London on November 13

Cameron Manley

LONDON — The Chinese newspaper Global Times is not exactly an independent press outlet: it is run directly by President Xi Jinping's Communist Party, publishing in multiple languages around the world.

With the surprise announcement this week of the return to government of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Global Times was quick to push out an opinion piece that gushed that Cameron's arrival to head up the Foreign Office could "revitalize the China-UK relationship."

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On one level, Cameron's appointment has drawn attention to his approach to China as Prime Minister, before resigning in the wake of the Brexit vote. Under his premiership, the so-called "golden era" of Sino-UK relations flourished, epitomized in memorable images of Cameron sharing a beer with President Xi during his 2015 state visit to Britain.

Those warm UK-China relations have chilled in the intervening years, amidst increasing reports of Beijing’s espionage activities in the West. The current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has labeled Cameron's past policies toward China as "naive" in his initial major foreign policy address after assuming office. "The so-called 'golden era' is over, along with the naive idea that trade would lead to social and political reform," Sunak stated.

But now, with Beijing hoping that Cameron brings back the ‘golden era,’ others are questioning what the former prime minister has been doing in China in the intervening years. Since leaving office in 2016, Cameron has faced scrutiny regarding his involvement in a China-funded port in Sri Lanka, raising worries about Beijing's expanding influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

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