While the world awaits a war of aggression by China against the small island country of Taiwan, ruler Xi has escalated another simmering conflict. His navy has pushed back ships of the Philippine naval forces and prevented them from proceeding with water cannons. Beijing is flexing its muscles in the western Pacific as it moves closer to its goal of total dominance of these international waters.
Taiwan is very important in Xi Jinping’s nationalist ideology. He says the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” will only be complete once his army has taken the small island nation. Just now the leadership in Beijing has released an eight-part documentary showing how soldiers of the so-called People’s Liberation Army are preparing to conquer the island.
Spratley Islands dispute: Xi’s other opponents are the Philippines
Years ago, Beijing started a conflict with the Philippines over the Spratley Islands. They belong, also confirmed by the highest court, to Manila and not, as Beijing falsely claims, to the People’s Republic. Militias from the People’s Republic have been occupying parts of these islands for some time. Beijing has also created artificial islands in this part of the western Pacific.
Half of the world’s freight traffic passes through the Western Pacific and the Taiwan Straits. The moment Beijing can successfully conduct a sea take, Xi could dominate world trade and use it to politically blackmail countries that criticize Beijing.
This has happened more than once in the past. Australia, Sweden, Lithuania, the Czech Republic – they have all experienced what it’s like to be harassed and threatened by Xi Jinping.
Not just Taiwan: Xi is already testing his victims
Just as Beijing’s navy has now pushed aside a Philippine ship, another Chinese-flagged warship engaged an American warship in the Taiwan Strait in April. In addition, numerous jets enter Taiwanese airspace almost every day. Xi wants to challenge the Americans, who are the key ally of the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Xi Jinping has started disputes with all these countries, as well as with other players in this part of the world, such as India and Australia.
Washington, like Manila, is warning that Beijing’s reckless and irresponsible actions may backfire and trigger a response that will eventually lead to war. While Beijing still wants to avoid war in theory, in practice it is doing everything it can to test its perceived victims. Xi is asking whether they will submit if they are harassed long enough by Beijing.
Does Xi really want to attack the Philippines first?
The Philippines, along with Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, are in the first line of islands that would oppose the People’s Republic’s army in the event of a world war. Both Taiwan and the Philippines are of central importance for this.
The dangerous maneuvers by the Chinese Navy over the weekend showed that China is testing different scenarios and arenas for launching its offensive in the western Pacific. While pundits around the world believe the first target would be Taiwan, it may emerge that Xi actually wants to strike somewhere else entirely.