Former Defense secretary says China ‘could bring Taiwan to its knees’ without invading

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed China’s chokehold on Taiwan amid rising tensions between the two on the most recent episode of the “One Decision” podcast.

Gates talked to former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove and international journalist Julia Macfarlane about major international concerns for the U.S., saying he does not believe China will invade Taiwan. 

“I personally think the likelihood of a full-scale invasion is very low. The Chinese have never undertaken an amphibious operation. It would look something like D-Day and it would have to be huge, and it would require a lot of softening up,” Gates said. 

Concerns of an invasion rose after Russia attacked Ukraine, with some afraid the action would embolden China to take its own measures against Taiwan. 

Taiwan says it is an independent country, while Beijing insists the island is part of China. The U.S. has supported Taiwan with weapons and training but does not formally recognize the island as independent from China. 

However, Gates says there is more to be concerned about than just an invasion. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping “can bring enormous pressure on Taiwan without ever firing a shot through cyber and through economic measures. He could bring Taiwan to its knees and create huge incentives for Taiwan to have a very different attitude toward China.”

The podcast discussed multiple international affairs, including the invasion of Ukraine.

“Just to illustrate expectations, we now know that the Russians who actually came down from the north and were headed for Kyiv had five days’ logistic support and actually had packed their ceremonial uniforms for the victory parade in Kyiv. That’s how confident they were,” Gates said. 

He continued to say Russian forces were so confident in the support they would receive that they paid off local governments and trusted them to follow Russian orders, but that was not the locals’ plan. 

“Someone told me that the Russians had paid off a lot of the local governments, but that the people that they had paid off, who they expected, as it were, to side with them immediately, were under the control of the Ukrainian services and had been told to act as though they were accepting the payoff and that they would get the balance of the money later. In fact, the Russians were really suckered into thinking that a lot of the local administrations north of Kyiv would welcome them,” he said. 

Russia and Ukraine are going into their fourth month of war as Russian forces were unsuccessful at taking Kyiv, but are making up ground in the eastern Donbas region.

Tags China China China-Taiwan tensions Cross-Strait conflict Cross-Strait relations Robert Gates Russia Russia-Ukraine war Taiwan Taiwan Ukraine Xi Jinping
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