China's threats to invade Taiwan mean democratic nations must create their own 'new world order' – Scotsman comment

As China continued to hold military exercises around Taiwan – described by the island’s government as a simulated invasion – the democratic world has no choice but to fundamentally reassess its relations with Beijing.

Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island ahead of massive military drills off Taiwan (Picture: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island ahead of massive military drills off Taiwan (Picture: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The prospect of a full-scale assault on Taiwan might seem far-fetched given the stand-off has persisted, nervously but peacefully, for decades. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seemed equally unlikely to many Ukrainians shortly before Putin began his war.

The over-optimistic idea that his regime was just another peaceful member of the ‘global village’ has now been comprehensively destroyed, forcing the West to hurriedly disentangle itself from Russian oil and gas supplies.

The lesson is that illiberal actions, threats and posturing by dictatorships must be taken seriously, not blithely dismissed on economic grounds, if the democratic world is not to be taken by surprise again.

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It is too easy to brush off Beijing’s bellicosity towards Taiwan as nationalist bravado aimed at a domestic audience, particularly as China’s current ‘exercises’ are so extensive that the situation “amounts to a blockade”, according to the Associated Press.

The idea that China could order its military to attack, causing the deaths of thousands of people, so it can bring Taiwan under its totalitarian rule while continuing to do business with the democratic world is unconscionable.

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So the more the Chinese government orders its many sabres to be rattled, the more the West must turn away.

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If the invasion of Taiwan began tomorrow (its government assesses China’s military will not be ready to do this until 2027), then severing economic links with China would be many times more difficult and painful than the current separation from Russia.

National self-sufficiency would be unrealistic and economically damaging, but democracies could increasingly favour trading links with each other.

This would have several benefits. It would create an economic incentive for non-democratic countries to join the club, reduce the funds available to dictators with a thirst for blood and vainglory, and potentially even make the western world safer. A report by the Royal United Services Institute says Russia’s military could be unable to operate some high-tech weapons because these depend on western-made microelectronics which are subject to sanctions.

A ‘new world order’ is now required in which democracies stand together. Presenting a strong, united front is our best chance of peace.

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