Top foreign policy experts told Fox News Digital on Thursday that China is “watching” to see how the United States and its Western allies handle Russian aggression against Ukraine and whether there are “any signs of weakness.”
“They have made the calculation of what this would ‘cost them’ if they were to move against Taiwan. And they get more data points now when they look at what the West is doing now against Russia,” said Heino Klinck, the former Assistant Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia under the Trump administration.
“It will inform and potentially shape Chinese decision-making,” he continued, referring to the US response in Eastern Europe. “Any sign of weakness … will be taken into account by the Chinese.”
Moscow’s aggression against Kiev prompted the United States and its Western allies to respond with severe sanctions and the deployment of Western forces to NATO member states surrounding Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Critics of the Biden administration, as former President Trumphas argued that the inability to deter a Russian invasion will “encourage” China to act more aggressively towards Taiwan.
But Isaac Stone Fish, CEO of Strategy Risks, a China-focused risk firm, told Fox News that he disagrees with this calculation.
“I think in some ways, it’s the opposite,” Stone Fish, who focuses on issues that involve US-China National Securitysaid, adding that China could interpret increased military involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as an appropriate time.
“They would calculate that the United States will hardly go to war with Russia over Ukraine and China over Taiwan at the same time. The more involved the United States becomes in the Ukraine crisis from a military perspective, the more incentives it China has to act now,” he added. he.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have expressed nostalgic desire to rebuild former empires that were broken up during the 20th century – but experts say this is where the parallel between the Russian Ukrainian conflict and Beijing’s desire for dominance over Taiwan ends.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long sought to reunite Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), with mainland China, but this goal has been met with opposition from Western nations such as the United States, Britain and Australia.
Taiwan has been described by Western allies as a beacon for democracy in Asia and is identified as a sovereign nation. But Taiwan is officially recognized by China, the United Nations and the United States as part of its one-China policy.
The Chinese government has repeatedly pushed back on issues linking Ukraine with Taiwan, and on Wednesday Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said: “Taiwan is definitely not Ukraine.”
“Taiwan has always been an integral part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact,” she added.
The experts agreed that it would prove much more difficult for an adversary like China to push a strategy of economic deterrence as a witness in Europe of NATO.
“What we are seeing now in Europe demonstrates a flaw in deterrence,” Klinck said. “The West basically used the threat of sanctions to try to push back Putin’s military aggression, and it has not worked.”
“And the effort in terms of economic sanctions in a Ukraine-Russia scenario is much less than they would be with China,” he added.
Klinck, who also previously served as a military attaché in China, pointed to the challenge The United States encountered when they convinced Germany to block the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in light of Russia’s violation of international law.
“Could you imagine what it would be like to try to put together an international coalition that would be willing to impose meaningful economic sanctions on China when the Chinese economy is literally at least 10 times as large as the Russian economy?” he asked.
“It shows the limited value that sanctions can have in deterring an authoritarian regime,” Klinck added.
Stone Fish told Fox News Digital that it is about how China wants to be perceived globally and not necessarily how its economy could be affected by an international conflict over Taiwan.
“It’s smaller [about] its economy and more the perception of China in the eyes of the world as a responsible global player – a reputation that I would argue it does not deserve – but China and Chinese companies and Chinese players are far more integrated into the international system than Russia’s is, “he said.
But Taiwan seems to remain concerned that China could seek an opportunity to take advantage of the current distraction in Eastern Europe by taking steps towards Taipei.
In a meeting with a working group on the Ukraine crisis this week, the Taiwanese president said that military and security units “should raise their surveillance and early warning of military developments around the Taiwan Strait,” according to a Reuters report.
Former strategist at Pentagon Matthew Kroenigwho also sits as a member of the Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board, told Fox News Digital that it is about strategy to ward off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
“What we need is a defense strategy to defend our interests and peace and stability in both Europe and Asia,” he said. “China should be a priority as it is the biggest long-term threat, but the United States is still a global power, we still have an interest in Europe and the Middle East, and we can go and chew gum at the same time.”
Kroenig argued that the best way to deter China from taking military action is to increase US naval presence in the region, strengthen Taiwan’s missile attack capabilities, and encourage allies to do the same.
The former Pentagon official also said that the issue of nuclear deterrence should be raised more strongly if the United States is serious about preserving Taiwan’s autonomy from an aggression from Beijing.
“I think we need to be ready to trade with Russia in Europe and China in Asia at the same time,” he added. “I think if Xi perceives a weak reaction in Ukraine, he can take it as a green light.”