The Chinese are masters of the long term view

Right Wing polemicist James Forsyth argues in The Times today that “If Russia paid only a small price for its assault on Ukraine, a Chinese attempt to take Taiwan by force would have become significantly more likely.” It is a very forced and superficial analogy.

China is not run by a madman and unpleasant though Xi Jinping may be he has the familiar Chinese virtues of patience and pragmatism. And to all intent and purposes the Chinese and Western economies are merged as one. That is unbreakable.

Xi Jinping – he can wait

China did not retake Hong Kong by force but by negotiation. And it waited more than twenty years, and until the economic merger I refer to above was firmly in place , before tightening its grip on the ex Colony.

China today is a Western creation – we swarmed like bees around a honeypot when the People’s Republic opened up in the 1980s. And when the Chinese showed that they had no intention of becoming a liberal or democratic state (e.g. in Tiananmen Square in 1989) we ignored it and carried on swarming.

That Taiwan will one day return to the motherland, as Hong Kong did, is highly likely. But unless the West, including the Taiwanese themselves, provoke the Chinese it won’t happen in the near or even medium term. My guess is that there will be an accommodation involving the surrender of sovereignty but the continuation of most of Taiwan’s current governance structure – the Chinese know all about “One country two systems”.

Back in the 1950s Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought the consequences of the French Revolution were he answered that it was “Too early to say”. The Chinese are masters of the long term view.

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