Flat White

What keeps President Xi awake at night? 

5 May 2021

5:15 PM

5 May 2021

5:15 PM

Australia has earned the international community’s respect — and got China’s attention — with our highly visible resistance to Beijing’s bullying tactics.  

Perhaps we should use our collective voice to dampen China’s enthusiasm for annexing Taiwan with some pragmatic reminders to President Xi – emphasising what no doubt keeps President Xi and his entire military and security apparatus awake at night. It could take the form of a brief but pointed article in some internationally respected journal (like, say, The Spectator Australia). 

So China invades Taiwan. It’s a big, bloody job — even without international intervention. The 25 million democratically governed Taiwanese do not have welcome mats out. The invasion force has to overcome well-armed and trained defence forces, arrest all members of parliament, secure all arms depots, take control of transport, communication and broadcast facilities, take control of police weapons and fill the streets with military to control the well funded (and no doubt well prepared) resistance.  


Simultaneously, the invaders face the massive task of locking down and ‘re-educating’ all the institutions and departments. Every bureaucrat is a potential covert agent, ready — nay, keen — to sabotage the invader. (Ask Donald Trump about the Deep State.) 

The vast resources required to repair the medical and physical war damage and maintain a stranglehold on an occupied Taiwan would be highly challenging. It’s not like Hong Kong, population 7.5 million. Apart from the difference in population, Hong Kong was politically — if illegally –‘assimilated’, not invaded by military force. 

The population remains a determined, energised and innovative enemy. Guerrilla warfare is exceedingly difficult to subdue by conventional force, as history has shown. An occupied Taiwan would be a bigger, permanent thorn in China’s side than an independent, democratic one is.  

For China, hovering threateningly over Taiwan has some strategic value; occupation becomes a strategic liability. But national pride urges them on towards Taiwan. Pride, Mr Xi, can be a dangerous and damaging weakness.

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