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So far, the bulk of media commentary seems to be aimed at China-US rivalry and the possibility of conflict over China’s desire to ‘reunify’ with Taiwan. China sees the US as provocateurs and trying to exert their waning control and influence in the western Pacific.

Xi and the CCP have given plenty of different reasons for wanting Taiwan – all of which Taiwan rejects. We should not be fooled into thinking that Xi would take over Taiwan simply to get control of their industry – especially its computer chip manufacturing or because they have the right given their joint history. The history is a falsehood for Xi’s purposes.

China has also demonstrated over the decades a propensity to steal patents, copyright and generally engage in industrial espionage. In short, they have copied vast quantities of western technology and ideas. Sure, they have some of their own but for evidence, just look at some of their military equipment – a direct take off US designs and technology. Russia too has been guilty of the same thing. Russia started copying US jets with the F86 Sabre (the MIG-killer) and the B29 bomber. More recently their Su-27 was a take-off of the US F14 Tomcat. China copied both Russian and US aircraft and they show remarkable similarities today. The Chinese J-15 is a clone of Russia's Su-33 naval fighter. China’s stealth Chengdu J-20 looks a lot like the US F-22 Raptor. Many of China’s naval craft bear a resemblance to other western craft – especially their more than 150 Coast Guard clippers.

So China could, if it hasn’t already, get hold of Taiwanese technology and emulate its chip business. It already manufactures lesser chips.

Xi Jinping has no doubt got his eye on ‘bigger fish’ – the disputed islands of the South China Sea and the vast oil (11 billion barrels) and natural gas (190 trillion cubic feet) reserves of the SCS. The islands themselves do not have such reserves but would serve other purposes as shown below.

Given that the ROC of Taiwan has control over about 166 islands of which the PRC claims rights to many, Xi would assume the rights currently held by Taiwan to numerous major island groups if he were to take over Taiwan.

Control over SCS shipping, oil and gas exploration rights and new economic zones around islands would be an enormous win for the PRC and Xi himself.

1. Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands which are claimed by the ROC of Taiwan as "Diaoyutai Islands" within Toucheng Township, Yilan County and are considered to be part of geographic and provincial Taiwan by the ROC

2. South China Sea Islands (which are disputed and controlled by several countries) are complex with the disputed status of both Taiwan (the territories outlined in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco) and the Republic of China (ROC) which controls Taiwan.

3. The ROC maintains its historical claims to all of the South China Sea Islands.

4. They are also claimed by five other claimants, namely the PRC, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.

5. The islands within the Pratas and Spratly Islands which remain under the control of the ROC are assigned to Cijin District, Kaohsiung City, thus technically defining these islands to be part of the "Taiwan Area".

6. The United Nations considers the South China Sea to be "international waters" and does not acknowledge any of the South China Sea Islands as "true islands". The acknowledgement of these islands as "true islands" is crucial because the definition of "islands" would justify the creation of an exclusive economic zone around them, which can be used to cut off international shipping lanes and to acquire natural resources such as oil which lie beneath the ocean.

7. The Senkaku Islands lie about 186 kilometres from the northeast of TaiwanIsland, and situated roughly 330 kilometres from the east of mainland China. They form the westernmost extremity of the "Ryukyu Islands", which Japan administers as Okinawa Prefecture. The PRC also claims the Senkaku Islands as "Diaoyu Islands" as part of its claimed "Taiwan Province".

8. The PRC claims the islands of Taiwan and Penghu as part of its 23rd Taiwan Province, together with the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands (claimed as "Diaoyudao Islands"),

9. The PRC claims Kinmen (Quemoy) as a county of the prefecture-level city Quanzhou, in Fujian Province.

10. Matsu is claimed as part of Lianjiang County, part of Fuzhou, in Fujian Province.

11. The Wuqiu islands are claimed as part of Xiuyu District, a district of the prefecture-level city Putian, in Fujian Province.

12. Pratas Island is claimed as part of Chengqu in Shanwei (Swabue) Guangdong Province.

13. The Nansha Islands controlled by the ROC, i.e. Taiping Island and Zhongzhou Reef, are claimed as part of Sansha, in Hainan Province. The PRC thus claims the ROC-controlled islands as part of its own TaiwanProvince (Taiwan and Penghu), Fujian Province (Kinmen, Matsu and Wuqiu), Guangdong Province (Dongsha) and HainanProvince (Nansha).

The west, led by the US as usual, would not be able to just stand by and let this scenario happen. South East Asian countries are impacted as well (including their own oil and gas rights in the SCS) along with south Pacific countries including Australia and New Zealand.

It would also behove France to deepen its engagement in the region.

In this situation, it would be far better if any resistance action is necessary, that the UN sanction it and lead it. We should not rely purely on the US to resolve Xi’s territorial ambitions and their ramifications – they are not the sole arbiters on wisdom and sound diplomacy.


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