Retired Chinese Senior Colonel: Lack of confidence behind the U.S.'s policy shift on Taiwan
Editor's note: Is a military conflict in the Taiwan Straits inevitable? If a military conflict broke out between the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan region, how likely is it that the U.S. would militarily intervene? Is the Biden administration's Taiwan policy a continuation of "strategic ambiguity" or turning towards "strategic clarity?" Zhou Bo, Senior Colonel (ret) of the People's Liberation Army, shares his view. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.
CGTN: Is a military conflict in the Taiwan Straits inevitable?
Zhou Bo: A war in Taiwan Straits, in my point of view, is not inevitable, so long as the Chinese mainland believes peace is still possible. So far, we have not lost our patience. In the reports of the 20th Communist Party of China National Congress last year, President Xi Jinping talked about (the Chinese mainland) having maximum sincerity and making the utmost efforts. So that means at least by October last year, we haven't lost our patience or confidence.
There is another indicator, that is our defense budget. Because defense budget normally would not lie. It tells you about how you think about your environment. It tells you about how you think about your own strength. For example, during the Cold War, Britain's GDP could be 6 percent on its defense.
But if you look at China's GDP, I would say that the two defense budgets, one after the breakout of the war in Ukraine, another of the defense expenditure this year, both of them are below 2 percent as in decades, right? We have a very moderate increase by 7 percent. But if you calculate in U.S. dollar, some people say that it is even lower than that of last year. And this is especially impressive if you compare it to the drastic increase in defense expansion of India, of Japan. For example, Japan's defense expenditure actually has doubled this year, right?
CGTN: If a military conflict broke out between the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan region, how likely is it that the U.S. would militarily intervene?
Zhou Bo: I think the direct answer is we don't know. Because the United States has actually for decades kept a so-called "strategic ambiguity" on whether they would come to Taiwan's military assistance or not. But in recent years, this policy actually has shifted a bit, because some people argue that this kind of "strategic ambiguity" actually would not be able to deter a possible attack from the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Therefore, they are encouraging a kind of "strategic clarity" which is a kind of overt, clear demonstration of a military assistant to Taiwan.
But some other people in the United States have argued that in doing so, it would actually anger the Chinese mainland and would actually make such an attack more likely. So, there is still a kind of ambiguity in the United States. As far as the Biden administration is concerned, although he actually talked about defending Taiwan four times. But still, they talk about the so-called one-China policy.
CGTN: Isn't the Biden administration just playing games, pushing the boundary forward and then try not to anger China at the same time?
Zhou Bo: You see, "strategic ambiguity" in the past was actually based upon the kind of American confidence about its own military capabilities. Because they are confident that whoever makes the provocation, they can control it, be it from the Chinese mainland or be it from Taiwan. So, they are confident about themselves about their own capabilities to stop this.
But with PLA growing ever stronger, they are not so confident. So, they just want to make a clear warning to you (the Chinese mainland). But such kind of clear warning has a kind of side effect. So, they're actually caught in a dilemma. So, I would believe that this is not quite a game, but that it shows the ever lacking of confidence about their own capabilities versus the ever-increasing capability of the PLA.
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