China and US on collision course over Taiwan as Xi ‘sends very clear signal’ of invasion

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The panel of experts, questioned during a virtual meeting hosted by LaTrobe University, set out to discuss the possibility of war in Asia amid surging tensions in the South China Sea. Professor Nick Bisley, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “Xi Jinping has made a very public and very clear signal that says ‘Taiwan is not a problem that will be passed down to the next generation’.

“Now, of course, he doesn’t have term limits. He’ll be there for a long while.”

When asked who the conflict will involve, Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, a China expert at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, said the US is guaranteed to participate.

However, she said one of the main reasons for Beijing’s more aggressive tactics in recent years is the thought China might actually win the conflict.

“The United States 100 percent is going to fight this war,” Dr Mastro said.

“One of the main reasons China might actually go for this [Taiwan] landing is because they think that they could win.

“And not just that they could win if the United States does not intervene, that is obviously guaranteed, but that they could win even if the United States intervenes.”

Dr Mastro believes the reason China could win the conflict is simply due to geographical proximity.

“It’s possible that China can move before the United States even has the time to respond,” she added.

“My big question is, what does it mean for the region if the United States tries and fails? I think that’s even worse.”

Last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned foreign nations will “get their heads bashed bloody” if they attempt to interfere with China.

The comments were made during a speech to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party (CCP).

The Chinese premier also reaffirmed China’s “unbreakable commitment” to unifying with Taiwan, adding he would “fulfil the Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation.”

When asked when a potential conflict might take place, Dr Mastro argued a conflict may happen soon.

“I don’t think it’s this year,” she said, “But I think definitely within the next six to seven years.”

However, another panel guest Guy Boekenstein, Northern Australia Fellow of the Asia Society, predicted it was not likely to happen in the next five to ten years.

Pointing to evidence of China’s actions – including incursions into Taiwan’s airspace and warships slowly circling the island – Mr Boekenstein said the intense military posturing will eventually lead to a conflict.

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“There’s been long, long pent strategic competition in the region now for quite a while,” he said.

“We’re suddenly seeing an increase in military activity. And, you know, I think that can only lead to something.

“At some point, something will give somewhere – whether on purpose or by accident.”

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