As the Ukraine war approaches its eighth week, it has become conventional wisdom that Russia’s debacle will serve as a cautionary tale for China vis-à-vis Taiwan. At minimum, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will conduct a thorough internal review of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), ensuring it avoids the difficulties Russia has encountered, and buying the West valuable years to arm the island-republic and coordinate a coherent strategy.
At best, in is assumed, the Kremlin’s failure will eliminate the Zhongnanhai’s ambitions, demonstrating the risks of military action – particularly the economic risks – far outweigh the rewards of conquest.
These assumptions confirm an unfounded Western bias. In fact, the CPC will take one major lesson from the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Mild nuclear threats are enough to set the terms of engagement and blunt American intervention. Vladimir Putin’s core success in brandishing merely the scabbard of a nuclear sword over Ukraine will embolden Xi Jinping’s CPC.
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