The Russian military operations in Ukraine have put the world's limelight on Taiwan. It is on this tenuous front line. Just as President Vladimir Putin can't tolerate Ukrainian sovereignty, the Chinese Communist Party will never accept the separateness of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a core part of China.
The American media is already speculating that, in the words of The Atlantic, Russia's action "makes the frightening possibility of China seizing control of the island more real," reported think tank, Policy Research Group (POREG)
"President Xi Jinping's nationalist fervour, commitment to the restoration of Chinese power, and more aggressive approach compared with his predecessors when it comes to territorial and maritime disputes, relations with the US and its allies, as well as the international system writ large, have already become a destabilizing force in Asia," said The Atlantic article.
"Gaining control over Taiwan, or as the party prefers to call it, 'reunification,' is a primary goal of Chinese foreign policy. In a world order where authoritarian states are more assertive and democratic allies are on the back foot, the chances of war over Taiwan increase," added the article.
Xi has already been intimidating the government in Taipei by sending squadrons of jets to harass the island, while Beijing's complete suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong undermines any hope that Taiwan would retain a semblance of its current freedom were it to be incorporated into Communist Party-led China.
It is, of course, too premature to give a date for China's so-called advance against Taiwan. The simple explanation is, unlike Putin, Xi is not "amassing an invasion force on the strait separating Taiwan from the Chinese mainland," reported POREG.
Unlike Putin, the Chinese in him makes Xi rely more on patience than hurry because he believes Taiwan is inevitably China's and so he can wait for the right time.
And if the United States, European Union and NATO do nothing to thwart Putin other than heap sanctions against him, it will send a specific message to authoritarian regimes like Xi's. They would want to test the outer limits of western liberal politics time and again.
Significantly, Xi may interpret the western reaction short of military intervention as a sign of growing American weakness. A leader like Xi can fatalistically believe it to be the inevitable American decline and see in it the necessary rise of China. That is problematic, reported POREG.
China is already playing the Russian roulette, much to the West's consternation. The Asian giant has in recent weeks been leaning towards Russia as the Ukraine build-up continued.
Beijing's reaction was at four levels - Blame the US and NATO for the conflict; Provide tacit diplomatic support to Russia; Urge resolution of conflict through dialogue and Stress principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference
Optimists may say China too must have been surprised by Putin's sudden march into Ukraine and, therefore, tried to balance its strategic ties with Russia and its current relations with Europe and the US.
China also blames NATO's expansion for the Ukraine crisis and sees Russia committing no wrong and no transgression against all international rules. (ANI)