Put simply, coronavirus may put Taiwan in China’s crosshairs as much as the bubonic plague put England in Scotland’s sights.
The Natiopnal Interest
Date: May 2, 2020
By: Arjun Kapur
When the Black Death ravaged Europe in the mid-fourteenth century, the soldiers of Scotland saw opportunity in crisis. First hitting England in 1348, the plague’s deadly spread across the country spurred the Scots to perceive an ideal moment to conquer their neighbors by staging an invasion of northern England in 1349. Might a power in today’s coronavirus-stricken world take advantage of temporary alterations to the global strategic environment for its geopolitical gain?
It is a cliché in diplomacy to point out that the word in Mandarin for crisis, wēijī, contains two syllables roughly translating to “danger” and “opportunity.” Whether or not that interpretation is wholly accurate, today’s coronavirus crisis surely presents a potential strategic opportunity for Beijing—one that it may already be seizing.
In the last month alone, China has sunk a Vietnamese fishing vessel in international waters, sent an aircraft carrier-led flotilla past Taiwan’s coasts, flown aircraft near Taiwanese airspace, and continued its efforts to militarize land features in the South China Sea. As U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus declared on April 6, “We call on the PRC to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic, and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea.”
Chinese militarism this year may be added to the long list of daring coups de main throughout history, as the global disruptions caused by coronavirus might very well feature a repetition of the Scots’ pandemic-inspired aggression nearly seven centuries ago. Trouble could very well lie ahead for Taipei, for there exist at least five rationales for Beijing to antagonize or even invade Taiwan in the coming months. [FULL STORY]