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Making Sense of Xi’s Claim That the US Is ‘Goading’ China to Invade Taiwan

Making Sense of Xi’s Claim That the US Is ‘Goading’ China to Invade Taiwan
Xi Jinping’s statement reflects long established and now widely held Chinese elite perceptions of U.S. motives in the “Taiwan question.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent comments to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2023 have raised concerns among foreign policy and defense experts. Xi claimed that the United States was goading China to invade Taiwan, prompting fears of a "warped" decision-making environment in Xi's inner circles. These claims have evolved from long-established Chinese elite perceptions of American motives, particularly in relation to the "Taiwan question." Chinese writings on Washington's Taiwan policy have shown a growing emphasis on economic containment and the fear that an invasion of Taiwan would lead to sterner economic and technological containment measures. There is also a theory that Washington might want to provoke China into invading Taiwan, leading to a growth in prognostications that Taiwan could be the next instrument of a "proxy war." The mutual "threat theories" in Chinese writings demonize Washington and cast it as a geostrategic chess master. The rhetoric does not bode well for stabilizing the security spiral in the western Pacific, as shown by national polls in Australia and Japan. The article emphasizes the need for both superpowers to engage in regular high-level dialogue and encourage broader people-to-people contact to dismantle the crude mischaracterizations that are destroying strategic trust.