Did Taiwan Defeat Xi Jinping?

CommentaryHas Taiwan defeated Chinese Communist Party CCP leader Xi Jinping?It is a question worth asking because Xi’s “wolf warrior” information dominance warfare aimed at Taiwan to influence its presidential election to defeat the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) resulted in such a humiliating rejection of Xi’s attempted intimidation that it can only be seen in Beijing as another failure by the leader, hastening the timeline of his removal.Indeed, did Xi’s bombastic threats against Taiwan undermine the Taiwanese opposition leaders rather than help them? There is real reason to believe, within the ranks of the Taiwanese opposition leaders, that “with friends like Beijing, you don’t need enemies.” Indeed, they had not sought Beijing’s help in the election.Given the growing rifts between Xi and other CCP leaders and between Xi and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it is also worth asking whether the “defeat” of Xi by the Taiwanese was also a precursor of a crumbling of the CCP itself. On that question, the CCP as a body seems aware of the fact that Xi has led communist China ever closer to disaster on many levels and would not allow itself to be destroyed by Xi.Rather, the momentum is building for Xi to be destroyed by the Party before he can do much more damage. The Taiwanese election served to accelerate Xi’s demise, or at least his titanic collision with his CCP and PLA opponents.Related Stories11/11/2023So it is difficult to disguise how the very significant margin of the election victory in Taiwan of former Vice-President Lai Ching-te (DPP), in the face of threats against Taiwan by Xi, served as a stark embarrassment for the CCP leader.Beijing said that the election of President-elect Lai (also known as William Lai) would be a decision by Taiwanese voters in favor of war. In fact, although the result may inflame Xi to anger and a desire to lash out at Taiwan, it is unlikely to see this election as the point of conflict. This is largely because the CCP and its PLA are in no position to mount such a war against Taiwan.The net result, then, is that Xi has made another high-profile bad decision in threatening the Taiwanese voters and Western supporters of Taiwan—including Australia—over supporting the DPP candidate or congratulating him after his election victory. The bottom line was that Xi once again risked his credibility within the CCP, within mainland China, and in the international community by staking his position on being able to intimidate Taiwanese voters.Thus, Xi failed spectacularly, and his now-aggressive opponents within the CCP have been given even more ammunition in their bid to overthrow him. Moreover, to much of the mainland Chinese population, already impoverished because of several years of massive failures within the mainland economy, Xi now looks vulnerable. He has lost his imperial “mandate of heaven.”This does not mean that the cross-Taiwan Straits situation has become more stable—quite the contrary. Xi will now initiate military and strategic moves to the extent that the PLA will comply, and these moves are likely to include symbolic displays of PLA military power around Taiwan and down into the South China Sea. They could, if Xi still has any persuasive powers, escalate to the point where China could attempt to quarantine Taiwan from international trade.But any escalation by Xi—clearly acting against the wishes of the majority of the CCP elders—would risk an accidental or uncontrolled kinetic clash between the Chinese and Taiwanese forces. Such a potential escalation may trigger Xi’s opponents to constrain or overthrow him.Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reacts as he speaks during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Oct. 14, 2023. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)But Xi was right to find the weak point in the international alliances arrayed against him: Australia. He specifically threatened the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Labor) if it congratulated Mr. Lai for winning the presidency and maintaining the DPP’s control of the Taiwan government. And, indeed, the Albanese government refrained from meaningfully congratulating Taiwan and its voters for conducting a transparent and patently democratic election. Xi succeeded there in silencing Canberra.The Australian Labor Party (ALP) government in Australia has, in fact, been divided on the ostensible policy of Australia to support the U.S.-led containment of China and ensure that Beijing is constrained within the “first island chain,” of which Taiwan is a central part. As a result, Australia’s partners in the AUKUS security treaty—the United States and the United Kingdom—have rightly questioned how firm Canberra’s commitment was, at a political level, toward containing China.So the bottom line question regarding the Taiwan elections is whether the outcome—the DPP victory—was likely to lead to a China–Taiwan kinetic war in the short-term or merely highlighted China’

Did Taiwan Defeat Xi Jinping?

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Commentary

Has Taiwan defeated Chinese Communist Party CCP leader Xi Jinping?

It is a question worth asking because Xi’s “wolf warrior” information dominance warfare aimed at Taiwan to influence its presidential election to defeat the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) resulted in such a humiliating rejection of Xi’s attempted intimidation that it can only be seen in Beijing as another failure by the leader, hastening the timeline of his removal.

Indeed, did Xi’s bombastic threats against Taiwan undermine the Taiwanese opposition leaders rather than help them? There is real reason to believe, within the ranks of the Taiwanese opposition leaders, that “with friends like Beijing, you don’t need enemies.” Indeed, they had not sought Beijing’s help in the election.

Given the growing rifts between Xi and other CCP leaders and between Xi and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it is also worth asking whether the “defeat” of Xi by the Taiwanese was also a precursor of a crumbling of the CCP itself. On that question, the CCP as a body seems aware of the fact that Xi has led communist China ever closer to disaster on many levels and would not allow itself to be destroyed by Xi.

Rather, the momentum is building for Xi to be destroyed by the Party before he can do much more damage. The Taiwanese election served to accelerate Xi’s demise, or at least his titanic collision with his CCP and PLA opponents.

So it is difficult to disguise how the very significant margin of the election victory in Taiwan of former Vice-President Lai Ching-te (DPP), in the face of threats against Taiwan by Xi, served as a stark embarrassment for the CCP leader.

Beijing said that the election of President-elect Lai (also known as William Lai) would be a decision by Taiwanese voters in favor of war. In fact, although the result may inflame Xi to anger and a desire to lash out at Taiwan, it is unlikely to see this election as the point of conflict. This is largely because the CCP and its PLA are in no position to mount such a war against Taiwan.

The net result, then, is that Xi has made another high-profile bad decision in threatening the Taiwanese voters and Western supporters of Taiwan—including Australia—over supporting the DPP candidate or congratulating him after his election victory. The bottom line was that Xi once again risked his credibility within the CCP, within mainland China, and in the international community by staking his position on being able to intimidate Taiwanese voters.

Thus, Xi failed spectacularly, and his now-aggressive opponents within the CCP have been given even more ammunition in their bid to overthrow him. Moreover, to much of the mainland Chinese population, already impoverished because of several years of massive failures within the mainland economy, Xi now looks vulnerable. He has lost his imperial “mandate of heaven.”

This does not mean that the cross-Taiwan Straits situation has become more stable—quite the contrary. Xi will now initiate military and strategic moves to the extent that the PLA will comply, and these moves are likely to include symbolic displays of PLA military power around Taiwan and down into the South China Sea. They could, if Xi still has any persuasive powers, escalate to the point where China could attempt to quarantine Taiwan from international trade.

But any escalation by Xi—clearly acting against the wishes of the majority of the CCP elders—would risk an accidental or uncontrolled kinetic clash between the Chinese and Taiwanese forces. Such a potential escalation may trigger Xi’s opponents to constrain or overthrow him.

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Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reacts as he speaks during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Oct. 14, 2023. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reacts as he speaks during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Oct. 14, 2023. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

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But Xi was right to find the weak point in the international alliances arrayed against him: Australia. He specifically threatened the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Labor) if it congratulated Mr. Lai for winning the presidency and maintaining the DPP’s control of the Taiwan government. And, indeed, the Albanese government refrained from meaningfully congratulating Taiwan and its voters for conducting a transparent and patently democratic election. Xi succeeded there in silencing Canberra.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) government in Australia has, in fact, been divided on the ostensible policy of Australia to support the U.S.-led containment of China and ensure that Beijing is constrained within the “first island chain,” of which Taiwan is a central part. As a result, Australia’s partners in the AUKUS security treaty—the United States and the United Kingdom—have rightly questioned how firm Canberra’s commitment was, at a political level, toward containing China.

So the bottom line question regarding the Taiwan elections is whether the outcome—the DPP victory—was likely to lead to a China–Taiwan kinetic war in the short-term or merely highlighted China’s strategic impotence.

Xi’s opponents and the CCP Party elders told Xi to stop China’s economic decline and mend economic relations with the United States, hoping to woo back U.S. financial investment in mainland China. That was attempted in San Francisco at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in November 2023. Still, the attempt failed resoundingly, and Xi’s opponents, particularly in Shanghai, leaked just how badly Xi performed against the demands of the Party elders.

This unfolding panorama of successive Xi failures and the concurrent collapse of the Chinese economy, coupled with the divisions within the Party and the collapse of clear command and control within the PLA (along with technical failures there), all point toward a tipping point in 2024, perhaps even by mid-year.

The fact that, immediately after the Taiwanese election, Nauru switched its diplomatic links from Taiwan to China was little comfort to Xi. Again, as with the switch of diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China by the Solomon Islands in the past two years, this was not about a vision of Beijing’s strengths but merely about how much money Beijing was prepared to pay to the politicians of small states to make the move.

Nauru’s politicians have, in recent years, been particularly volatile, and a short-term cash shortfall in the Nauruan budget spurred them to seek last-minute funds from Australia or Taiwan. Beijing merely stepped in with a cash offer at the right time.

None of this impacts China’s growing economic decline and social disruption. So will The CCP face a controlled implosion, a spontaneous collapse, or a lashing out in the style of a suicide bomber to detonate a wider conflict? Nothing has interrupted the macro-trend toward strategic decline for China and Xi.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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