China 'learning lessons' from Ukraine for Taiwan offensive and 'testing' British will

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The news comes as tension remains high between China and Taiwan following a high-profile visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island. The US has over the last few days sailed two warships along the Straits of Taiwan in an open and frank message to Beijing that any aggression towards the island would not be tolerated.

Britain and Australia have pledged to work closer together in order to tackle the threat posed by China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles attended a commissioning ceremony of the HMS Anson on Wednesday and spoke of the risks China poses.

A source from within the Defence Ministry said: “China is clearly a factor.

“The Defence Secretary has repeatedly said that what happens in Ukraine sends a signal of our resolve elsewhere, so not only is China watching but they are also judging our political will, as well as learning military lesson.”

The source also added the West will “stand firm” with partners and allies over the conflict in Ukraine.

Experts believe China has studied the impact of the war in Ukraine on Russia as it contemplates its own options when it comes to a potential invasion of Taiwan, something China has vowed to complete should the island declare official independence from Beijing.

Comparing the time-scale of the Russian invasion to the Western reaction to the news, China has deemed a two-day period was enough for Western support for Ukraine to go, and initial actions take place against Moscow, for example in the form of punitive economic measures.

China will hence be keen to avoid a long, drawn-out war similar to that being seen in Ukraine.

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In spite of fiery rhetoric emerging from Beijing that it would be able to conduct a military offensive against Taiwan in the next five to ten years, as per President Xi Jinping’s pledge, China has so far remained contented with sabre-rattling until now.

Diplomatic sources have previously set out that when China decides to take Taiwan by force, it will aim to do so via a lightning-fast 48-hour offensive so that the West does not have time to respond.

Taipei has reported an increase of flights by drones over military outposts on remote Taiwanese islets since Beijing escalated its military drills in response to Ms Pelosi’s visit.

The US has vowed to continue its military support towards Taiwan with the supply of anti-ship and air-to-air missiles worth up to £950m, something China says will solely contribute to adding more tension to the situation.

Chinese sources, speaking of the move said: “The arms sales will be futile in changing the absolute superiority of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) over Taiwan’s armed forces and the PLA will be more than ready to deal with them.”

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In an interview with Russian media outlet Sputnik on Monday, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the US Liu Pengyu said that US arms sales to Taiwan seriously violate the one-China principle and encourage Taiwan secessionists and escalate tensions across the Taiwan Straits.

He stressed that China will continue to take strong and effective measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty and security interests.

China has continued to maintain a heavy presence in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits and has expanded its reach into the Indo-Pacific region, building ties with the Solomon Islands as one example of the scope.

Beijing has also vowed to remain in collaboration with Moscow, with the two countries having forged stronger ties.

Both sides have conducted joint military drills in recent times, and have demonstrated wider cooperation in the process.

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In spite of international eyes examining the bi-lateral ties between China and Russia, officials in Beijing have said “external factors” play no part in the relationship.

A Chinese official added: “China-Russia military and security cooperation serves mutual core interests, does not target any third party, and is conducive to regional peace, stability and development.

“China highly values the China-Russia military and security cooperation and will jointly work with Russia to promote bilateral military and security cooperation to a higher level, and to cover a broader range of areas.”

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