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