Burns argued that the Ukraine conflict may have affected Being calculation on Taiwan but it has not eroded Xi’s determination overtime to gain control over the self governed island. “I don’t for a minute think that it’s eroded Xi’s determination overtime to gain control over Taiwan,” although it was “affecting their calculation”, Burns said.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite decades of separate governance. Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war.
“It strikes us . . . that Xi Jinping is a little bit unsettled by the reputational damage that can come to China by the association with the brutishness of Russia’s aggression against Ukrainians [and] unsettled certainly by the economic uncertainty that’s been produced by the war,” Burns was quoted as saying by Financial Times. Xi’s “main focus” was on “predictability”, he added.
According to Burns, China was the biggest geopolitical challenge the US face over the long term even though the threat from Putin’s Russia could not be underestimated. “[Putin] demonstrates in a very disturbing way that declining powers can be at least as disruptive as rising one,” Burns said.