Opinion – Rodrigo Zeidan: Why China won’t invade Taiwan


China will not invade Taiwan, Nancy Pelosi’s visit is not reckless and trade relations between the Asian giant and the US will not be broken. There are no major immediate risks to the world economy from the increase in tension between the US and China, but even so, it is yet another sign that the process of commercial and political separation (decoupling) between the largest global economies will continue.

The most common mistakes of those who analyze Chinese movements are (1) thinking that everyone in Beijing agrees on what should be done and (2) seeing Chinese actions through the lens of China versus the rest of the world, as if foreign movements were especially important. relevant to the political decision-making process.

The West loves to think of itself as more important than it is. China is a continent, the Chinese Communist Party is extremely complex, and no president can hold on to power without robust networks of alliances. “All politics is local”, as the saying goes.

It is clear that China both reacts to what is happening in the world and takes actions to guarantee its “interests”, but, in the end, nothing is more important than guaranteeing social order, not even economic growth. War drills are much more a signal to the domestic public that the government is strong and therefore it is important that President Xi Jinping be reappointed for a third term rather than a threat to the US.

China has a long history of civil wars and internal conflicts. And order is much more than state surveillance or authoritarianism. There are several implicit social contracts between society, elites and government, but they all have one thing in common: stability. It is common for people to think that the Chinese live in fear of the government, but it is more the opposite; the greatest risk to the Communist Party is popular dissatisfaction.

Take the example of the Chinese Covid zero policy. It has always been sold to the public as the great success of the Communist Party leadership against Western decadence. Even with costs increasing enormously with the difficulty of dealing with the omicron variant, it is still supported by the majority of the population, even though it is viewed with suspicion outside of China.

Lockdowns, daily testing, supply chain problems and foreign companies slowing investment are some of the immense economic costs for Chinese society, but the authorities still prefer maintaining social order than “living with the virus”; no one knows how the population would react to seeing millions of the most vulnerable dying. Current policy is tough, but it privileges stability over everything else.

In relation to Taiwan, the idea of ​​a single China is a project of the State, but its implementation is far from being deterministic or triggered by external movements. Pelosi’s visit will indeed be used by Chinese domestic groups that advocate more aggressive foreign policy. But these groups are always looking for justifications for their beliefs. We saw in the case of the Russian war that Beijing’s immediate concern was that the Winter Olympics go well; local interests matter more than other countries do.

There will be no war, but that does not mean that it is easy to understand the movements that come from the East. Simplistic narratives are simply wrong. Chinese governments have always surprised the world, for better or for worse. Why would it be any different now?

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