China, presently the world’s second-largest economy with the third most powerful military, under supreme leader Xi Jinping’s leadership, aims to position itself as the global hegemon and to outpace the U.S. economically, militarily, and diplomatically by 2049.
To achieve this goal, China weaponizes trade, mobilizes the military, and uses wolf warrior tactics, a new style of coercive diplomacy with hostile and combative rhetoric and verbal insults, to cow opponents into submission.
However, in doing so, China has aroused global resentment and faced backlash. Nevertheless, this has not stopped the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and going into 2024 and beyond, China’s belligerent actions will continue.
In light of Lai Ching-te’s victory in the January 13 Taiwan presidential elections, who is not the CCP’s favored candidate, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the election outcome did not alter Taiwan’s status vis-a-vis China. Taiwan is a self-governing country which has never been ruled by China before.
“If anyone on the island of Taiwan thinks of going for independence, they will be … trying to split China, and will certainly be harshly punished by both history and the law,” Wang said at a press conference January 14 in Cairo, the first leg of his four-nation Africa tour.
“Taiwan has never been a country. It wasn’t in the past, and it certainly won’t be in the future”, he said.
China also issued what observers have termed as its most direct threat to Australia, warning of consequences if Australia backed Lai and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
In a statement, the Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian warned that “If Australia is tied to the chariot of Taiwan separatist forces, the Australian people would be pushed over the edge of an abyss.”
Beijing previously termed Lai, Taiwan’s current vice president, as a “dangerous separatist” before the January 13 elections. On the eve of the elections, the Chinese defense ministry pledged to “crush” any move towards independence for the island.
Although China is a crucial trading partner for Australia, so is Taiwan, which was Australia’s seventh largest two-way merchandise trading partner in 2021/22, with trade worth A$32.6 billion (US$21.4 billion).
Besides, Taiwan was also Australia’s fifth-largest merchandise export market that year, worth $23.1 billion. Two-way services trade totaled $811 million, with Australia exporting $468 million to Taiwan and importing $343 million of services.
Ahead of the January 13 elections, China executed significant disinformation and coercion campaigns on Taiwan through various means, such as mobilizing spy balloons and conducting psychological warfare.
Since December 2023, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has reported dozens of Chinese spy balloons crossing the sensitive Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China, with some passing directly over the island.
According to the 2023 Threat Assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, China has the capability to contest the current international paradigm in various regions and across several domains.
Assessments from the U.S. intelligence community and other experts also warned about China’s threat in 2024 in terms of economic coercion, propaganda and misinformation dissemination, election interference, support for terrorism, territorial disputes, and the potential for war over Taiwan.
Also, the Homeland Threat Assessment for 2024 indicated that “we expect the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will continue to use predatory economic practices to advantage its firms and industries over ours.”
Although the assessment of China’s actions focuses on the U.S., the ramifications of such actions would be global. The Department of Homeland Security predicted that China will “continue to manipulate markets, employ economic espionage and coercive economic tools, and seek to illicitly acquire our technologies and intellectual property.”
Notably, the U.S. House Select Committee on the CCP called on the Biden administration this month to adopt urgent measures against Chinese foundational semiconductors to stop the CCP from dominating the semiconductor market.
“While the Administration has taken strong actions to ensure U.S. advanced semiconductor technology is not transferred to (China), far less attention has been given to the risk that a surge of China-made foundational chips poses to U.S. economic security,” the Committee said in a letter dated January 5 to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai.
In the letter, Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the ranking member of the committee, voiced fears about the potential influx of Chinese-made foundational semiconductors, also known as legacy chips, into the U.S. and global markets. They contended that such an influx could dent U.S. economic security.
In recent years, Chinese investments and development projects within the U.S. have come under increased scrutiny, with fears about agents of the Chinese regime stealing U.S. research and intellectual property.
Activists and lawmakers have also voiced concerns about the proximity of Chinese-owned facilities to U.S. military bases and other major national security facilities and critical infrastructure components.
In recent years, lawmakers have mounted pressure to prevent land purchases by Chinese-related entities near Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Even with the global spotlight on its deed and action, the CCP regime has persisted in its aggressive and hostile foreign policy approach towards perceived or actual adversaries like the U.S. and any other countries, companies or persons
During a briefing on December 26, 2023, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Beijing was enforcing sanctions on a U.S. research firm and two individuals in response to Washington’s recent attempts to pressure Beijing regarding human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities.
The sanctions impact Kharon, a San Francisco-based research and data company; Edmund Xu, a senior researcher who leads the Asia study program at Kharon; and Nicole Morgret, a policy analyst at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a U.S. congressional advisory body.
In January, China also declared sanctions on five American defense-related companies, namely BAE Systems Land and Armaments, Alliant Techsystems Operations, AeroVironment, Viasat, and Data Link Solutions, following U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and U.S. sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals.
The sanctions will freeze any property the companies have in China and ban organizations and individuals in China from doing business with them, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted online.
U.S. Congressman Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) raised concerns on January 8 over plans by the U.S.-based arm of a Chinese materials technology company to construct a new facility near major national security installations.
In a letter, LaTurner urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to order the Committee on Foreign Investment to evaluate the potential national security risks arising from plans by Cnano Technology USA to establish a new facility in Johnson County, near Kansas City.
The planned facility would be based approximately 21 miles from the Kansas City National Security Campus, 35 miles from Fort Leavenworth, 70 miles from Whiteman Air Force Base, and 105 miles from Fort Riley.
Moreover, the Kansas lawmaker claimed that Jiangsu Cnano Technology, the parent company of Cnano Technology USA, has ties to Project 863, which the U.S. intelligence community describes as a program that “provides funding and guidance for efforts to clandestinely acquire U.S. technology and sensitive economic information.”
LaTurner pointed out that the planned location of the facility was worrying, declaring he believed that Jiangsu Cnano Technology, maintains relations with the CCP.
“They have very strong connections to the CCP through their 863 program, they’ve received financing, their CEO has spoken to (China’s communist-controlled legislature),” LaTurner told media outlet NTD’s “China in Focus.”
“They want to invest $100 million into Kansas and (create) 100 new jobs. That all sounds great if you’re not paying attention to the details,” LaTurner said.
In October 2023, the commanders of a bomber wing and a missile wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota were interviewed for details regarding the Chinese nuclear buildup that was specifically targeting their units and the entire American nuclear force. These two commanders described the rapid yet methodical buildup of the Chinese nuclear force.
Col. Daniel S. Hoadley, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, said, “They’re taking notice of what we’re capable of doing,” alluding to the Chinese military.
Photo credit: iStock/ vadimrysev