China’s blockade of Taiwan and why Xi Jinping is playing with fire

Xi Jinping after speaking to the public in Hong Kong on June 30. The head of the Chinese regime faces a key dilemma with Taiwan that could compromise his future before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (Reuters)

Those who follow him closely say that for some time now his face reflects anger and concern. That he is not the same person who smiled and transmitted tranquility to the population and his subordinates. “it’s uglier”, ironically someone who notices this change in rictus. There are many things that weigh on the head of Xi Jinpingbut above all one: the accounts that must be rendered in the face of the imminent Chinese Communist Party Congress (PCC). There, his long-awaited lifelong future will be defined.

the noisy 7 p.m. visit Nancy Pelosi a Taiwan as part of his tour of Asia added nuances to that future assembly. Xi knows, then, that it cannot remain immobile in the face of what the regime of Beijing had previously qualified as a provocation and one “Red line” than the USA They shouldn’t cross. The trip aroused incredible expectation: hundreds of thousands of people followed live on the app Flightradar24 the plane ride Boeing C-40 from Air Force that was transporting the experienced 82-year-old Democratic congresswoman from Kuala Lumpur a Taipeiwhere she was received with open arms.

The government of Tsai Ing-wen previously weighed the pros and cons of the presence of Pelosi and concluded: “A Taiwan It is visited by 50 million tourists every year. She is one more person who steps on our land. We are a beacon of democracy and we only deny entry to terrorists”. They even claim Taipei would allow the very Xi arrive on the island to show him how well it is to live there in freedom, even if his dream is to keep it along with its industries.

the greeting of Pelosi generated an earthquake and a long debate about how to react in Beijing. Xi It is aware that it has no room to appear petrified, but at the same time it knows that the consequences of going beyond the limits that the international community would accept could be devastating for its own economy, which is already beginning to feel the results of the permanent harassment of Taiwan.

In the last six months – from January to July 2022 – Taiwanese businessmen who had been in China They decided to return to their country due to the cooling of that economy and because they see that the guarantees with which they were managed until recently were no longer the same. For some, in addition, to this is added a no less important factor: their sense of belonging. Together with them and their families they moved not only their businesses, but also their millions. It is estimated that they invested in Taiwan some 35 billion dollars. A significant drain of money for the continent.

That experience does not only occur with Taiwanese but especially with Hong Kongers. in the last few months Hong Kong experiences a similar migration before the overwhelming advance of Beijing about their freedoms and about the controls suffered by one of the most important financial hubs on the planet. The preferred destination of these disenchanted is Singapore… y Taiwan.

But the island – whose official name is Republic of China– not only receives the dollars that return from local entrepreneurs, but also sees how other countries are increasingly looking at the opportunities it generates. From January to June important conglomerates of Finland, Australia, Singapore y Netherlands landed with investments close to 9 billion dollars. These numbers represent year-on-year growth in foreign investment of 275.65 percent. In 2021 the growth of Taiwan it was of 6.57 percent and for this year it is estimated 3.85 percent. Apparently it’s not just Pelosi who is interested in what happens in that small country of 23 million inhabitants.

But Xi must be active before two audiences: that of the PCC and the international, although the first of these audiences is the one that worries him the most. In recent years, his administration has been more aggressive on a global level in the face of what was called “wolf warrior politics”. It consists of promoting a tougher diplomacy, extreme nationalism and ordering each embassy to respond hostilely to criticism of the regime one by one, as if the foreign territory were one of the concentration camps it built in Xinjiang for “re-educate” to minorities.

That demanding standard that imposed Beijing is now a boomerang. Xi must hyperreact to the fleeting presence of Pelosi and move their tokens to show the PCC that its international policy cannot be challenged. But at the same time it would be very risky to cross a “Red line” -according to the terms proposed by his regime- and launch a military operation to invade Taiwan. Nor any of the islets that surround it: such action would have an immediate response of Taipei. Both scenarios could trigger events of incalculable cost to Beijing.

This is how the echo of Russian bombs in Ukraine are heard in the Close: USA y Europa -the main markets of China– would impose immediate sanctions on the regime for having attacked an island that sees itself as “a beacon of democracy”. Unlike Russia – where the consequences are only now beginning to be felt, the economic warnings against the Asian country would have an immediate effect on its industries and on the public. Logically, an unprecedented global recession would be generated.

However, contrary to the scenario in which it is submerged Vladimir Putin -who does control almost the entire political and repressive apparatus of the KremlinXi Jinping must give explanations in the coming months to a very demanding party congress that shows signs of discontent with the 69-year-old boss who dreams of remain in local history Mao Zedong o Deng Xiaopingas put forth by former Taiwanese admiral Lee Hsi-min in an article published in The Economist. China cannot allow its economy to continue to show signs of weakening and a war could be internally devastating, even if he ultimately emerges victorious. Beijing needs its gross production to remain in numbers of other times, something that seems increasingly distant from the recent policies of COVID-zero that the regime imposed and chased away -chases away- capital.

Xi So he opted for something he had been doing in silence for years with his navy of fishing illegal: a block to Taiwan. That military fence” – as admitted by a Chinese military and reproduced in the official news agency Xinhua– It would end this Sunday, August 7. It would act like a too sharp sword on the neck of Taipei if it were prolonged in time. And also, again, it could have very serious consequences on the world economy. Taiwan it has oil reserves for 146 days; coal for 39 days; but above all it has gas reserves for just 11 days. Currently, due to the Chinese blockade, no ship enters or leaves the island. Neither with those energy sources nor with food. Tic-tac.

This last reservation point is crucial. The island needs gas to be able to keep one of the industries that generated the most headaches during the pandemic born in Wuhan: The one of the microprocessors. there it works TSMC the world’s largest company chips who received a visit from Pelosi and what is a real obsession for Beijing. The small country of 36 thousand square kilometers provides 40 percent of the total of them to the entire planet. If it stops producing them and its freighters cannot leave the ports, a world recession is guaranteed. Again, China I’d feel it before anyone else.

Meanwhile, the government of Taipei he appears calm. his president, Tsai Ing-wen He asked Beijing to act with reason and was not intimidated. On the contrary. “Taiwan it will not escalate the conflict, but we will defend our sovereignty, democracy and security with determination”. There were several state agencies that were on guard against the Chinese threat. This warning to the neighboring regime responds to the versions about the possibility that Xi decided on an amphibious action against an islet near the main island. “We would answer for those 800 inhabitants, too”, they warn from the Taiwanese capital.

That tiny military action would lack strategic sense and would unleash a series of actions that are difficult to predict. The chinese military blockade put on alert Japan who raised his voice because one of the intimidating missile tests invaded his Exclusive economic zone. Tokyo already warned that it would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of an attack on its sovereignty. To the Asian power would be added USA, Filipinas, South Korea, India y Australia.

Too many powerful fronts to face at the same time. Perhaps that explains the grim face and unease of Xi Jinping.

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