John Gray: China will act on Taiwan before 2025
The philosopher warned that Xi Jinping is committed to resolving the issue
The Taiwan issue will likely come to a head in the next two to three years, according to the political philosopher John Gray. Speaking to UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers, Gray reasoned that Chinese premier Xi Jinping is “too committed to resolving this issue relatively soon,” and pointed out that cross-Strait relations were the first thing Xi mentioned at the most recent National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party earlier this month.
Warning that Xi is “not going to wait ten years”, Gray suggested that “the strategic question he has to ask is: is it easier to do it now or later?” Further, a less hawkish US President might spur Beijing into action: “it might be easy to do if they’ve got a crypto-isolationist America First regime in Washington, because [the Americans] are not going to do anything anyway.” With a large portion of American military resources concentrated in the Ukrainian war effort, this may be seen as an opportune moment for a Chinese strike.
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Another reason why China may act sooner rather than later is because the country is falling behind in chip technologies, according to the philosopher. “They’re not going to allow themselves to get further and further back,” Gray said, “and be strangled in something that might seem to them analogous to the way the United States created an oil embargo in Japan” as a preemptive measure during the Second World War. He went on to say that the semiconductor controls imposed by President Biden on China may have escalated the probability of violent conflict in Taiwan.
Part of the problem also lies in Western perceptions of China, Gray claimed. “There’s been a sort of dichotomy in Western opinion,” he said, “the Russians aren’t rational, but the Chinese leadership is rational.” If Xi wants to reestablish the ‘Middle Kingdom’, it stands to reason that he would choose to reincorporate Taiwan into China once again. Gray stressed that the CCP leadership would be wary of instigating a nuclear war, and that an attack on Taiwan might not take the form of a full-scale invasion, but that a tactic such as a blockade of the contested territory would be more likely.
“Xi is rational,” Gray continued, “but his goals are not liberal goals. People have assumed that rationality means adhering to liberal goals.” On top of this, the CCP structure is shrouded in mystery: “we don’t know who is advising [Xi],” he said. It is this uncertainty over the party apparatus and the figures with whom Xi surrounds himself which has prevented China-watchers from giving clearer indications thus far of what will happen to Taiwan. The result, often, is to suggest that an invasion lies only in the distant future. Gray disagrees: “People say it’ll happen in the next twenty years. Forget it: it’s going to be much quicker than that.”
To watch the full interview with John Gray, click here. For the first part of the interview, click here.
With a large portion of American military resources concentrated in the Ukrainian war effort
What? They are providing intel and some spare equipment that was aging in warehouses. I’m sure the Ukrainians greatly appreciate it, but it is nothing like a “large proportion” of the US military – it barely even scratches the surface.
It is certainly not tying down it’s 11 aircraft carriers.
I’m sure Xi absolutely wants to take Taiwan as soon as possible, the question is though: how do they do it? Would they be able to survive sanctions, let alone a full embargo? Unlike Russia, they rely greatly on importing food and energy.
“Xi is rational,” Gray continued
I’m sure he is, so how does the risk-reward ratio line up rationally for an attack on Taiwan?
The USN ‘Ohio’ class nuclear submarines have a launch capacity of about 324 multiple re-entry warheads. Each missiles has a range in excess of 7,000 miles.
China has approximately 104 ‘target cities’ each with a population in excess of 1.5 million. Together they contain about 75%-80% of China’s population.
Thus could China be ‘vaporised’ inside 3 hours. QED?
All it needs is the WILL!
Two things, Charles:
- The Pacific Ocean is a two-way shooting range.
- Bejing would be pleased to have the Chinese population reduced, by any means necessary.
Their missiles are better than ours now too, unfortunately I think they have the upper hand
Can’t deny that made me laugh, sleepy biden better wake the f*** up or I fear that’s the way we’re going.
Sino delenda est.
To my mind, that is at the crux of the matter. America can see that China is becoming top dog and it hates the idea of losing its supremacy. The US has no cultural, religious or historical interest in Taiwan.
I would also suggest that its desire for conflict with its old enemy resulted in it twisting the tail of Russia by refusing to rule out Ukraine’s joining NATO (the EU would have been quite happy with it being independent, as is Austria and Finland) and that antagonism went some way to starting the conflict in Ukraine.
Why? Russia was no longer a challenging super power, you might say, but it was seen as having too much influence in Europe through trade, sport, culture and social intercourse between politicians.. .
Totally agree, great points, as far as I could make out from the press on these missiles, no one was expecting china to have them, we can’t actually make them yet, I think we tested some recently but they were still much earlier stages, nothing like what these can do.
Despite what Mr Emery says below I do NOT believe that the ‘Chinks’ have any answer to to the Ohio’s.
I’m not Mr I’m Miss 🙂 maybe they don’t, but no one could believe they had made those hypersonic missiles as far as I know we still haven’t been able to replicate it. So as far as I know, long range missile wise, theirs are now superior to ours, let me know guys if that’s not right though.
In July and August 2021, China tested new types of hypersonic weapons that appear to differ in significant ways from any that have been tested previously, either by other countries or by China itself. In each test, China fired a payload into low-Earth orbit, which travelled at least partially around the globe; it then released a hypersonic glide vehicle that travelled through the atmosphere to a target site in Chinese territory. This is very different from how hypersonic gliders are typically launched, via a short, suborbital ballistic flight. The glider in the July 2021 test released a missile during its final approach, which was particularly surprising to international observers given that this was the first time such technology has been demonstrated during long-range hypersonic flight. These tests suggest that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, the branch of China’s military responsible for land-based long-range nuclear and conventional missile operations, may be developing innovative new weapons-delivery systems. It is possible, however, that they were part of a broader effort by China to develop intercontinental-range hypersonic weapons, which might not result in the eventual deployment of an orbital glider. China has not officially confirmed these tests, and official spokespeople have said that the tests were related to the development of reusable spacecraft with civilian applications……
“Unlike Russia, they rely greatly on importing food and energy.”
Courtesy of our foolishness, they now import much more of that energy from Russia. The Russians have fertilizer and fossil fuel resources. The Chinese have people, ag land, and technical expertise. And we just drove them into bed with each other.
Do you think ccp has enough influence in our own governments/ institutions to sleep walk us into destroying ourselves? By the end of this winter, or if not this one the next, we are going to be lucky if we aren’t forced into some weird form of communism to share the scant resources we haven’t already sanctioned our own access to?
No, I don’t. I don’t think the CCP is organized or competent enough to pull off something like that, and I’ve never been impressed with the “China plays 9 dimensional chess” narrative.
This is just out of touch, Western, elite incompetence. This is an EU bureaucracy which (like its Chinese counterpart) can’t see past the end of its own nose. No commie conspiracies needed, just idiots in a bureaucracy rising to the level of their own stupidity.
Thanks, appreciate the reply, I am genuinely interested in what other people think on all this business the only reason I subscribed is the world’s gone more mad, trying to make sense of it all. I’m inclined to completely agree with you when you put it like that actually, now I feel better about the lack of the ccp conspiracy, perturbed still by our leaders incompetence, but better anyway! 🙂
There is a large us deployment to Europe:
Since February 2022, DoD deployed or extended over 20,000 additional forces to Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, adding additional air, land, maritime, cyber, and space capabilities, bringing our current total to more than 100,000 service members across Europe
Think they’re just getting geared up for it properly to be honest, we haven’t seen anything yet…..
Yeah that made me laugh too.
And he’s correct. I love how he mentioned the analogy of how the US is strangling China now through chip technology and how we strangled Japan in 1940 through oil. It’s a very apt comparison. Taiwan is a leader in chip technology and manufacturing so its a tempting target. However, the US military establishment is well aware of the same strategic realities, and will push for a response no matter who is President. When Biden slipped and said America would defend Taiwan, he was being accidentally honest. The Republicans are more isolationist, but they’re also more vocally anti-China. Nobody really knows which of these considerations would win out in the moment, but I doubt Trump, DeSantis, Pence, or any of the likely Republican nominees in 2024 are likely to be isolationist enough to ignore the strategic consequences. Public sentiment, at least initially, is likely to be pro-Taiwan also. Of the prominent voices in the Republican party, only Rand Paul is probably isolationist enough to defy both America’s military leadership and public opinion, but he has about as much chance of being elected as my dog. We’re much closer to WWIII than we have been at any point since 1963 at least.
But the difference here is that in late 1962 or early 1963 ‘we’ started it by placing nuclear tipped Jupiter Missiles in Turkey, very close to the frontier of the then USSR.
Addendum: Off course ‘you’ also ‘started it’ with Japan. viz: 1921 Washington Disarmament Treaty, severing of the 1904, Anglo-Japanese Naval Treaty, moving the US Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbour, and a myriad of sanctions after 1931, plus the ‘miracle’ of the completely unprovoked attack on the aforementioned Pearl Harbour. Bravo!
Sadly the post 1945 follow up, was dismal in the extreme, hence we are where we are.
Well, the military guys in the Pentagon would say cutting China’s chip tech is justified because China has threatened Taiwan for decades, and they’ve been building military islands in the Taiwan straits and attempting to assert complete control over the South China Sea, and the Chinese have their justifications for why they did that and so on until both sides are going back decades or centuries. This is how wars always start. Nations have competing goals. They start by using subtle soft power options, but the opponent notices, and then they use their soft power, and the cycle of escalation begins, every move prompts retaliation, and each round is a little more openly hostile than the last until two countries are staring each other down waiting for the other to blink. In the question of which side is responsible for starting a war, the answer is usually both and neither.
The first people to fly out will be the chip technologists and this will be immediately followed up with the destruction of the plants making them. That’s why alternative plants are, at last, being built in the west.
The economy floats on a layer of silicon chips, Taiwan produces the most, and better, of them, and China uses most of them; profitably.
So say you live very well because the neighbor has a goose which lays golden eggs and you are the one he does his business through….He has it guarded with big dogs and a shotgun carrying game keeper, and has the goose house rigged with demolition explosives as the final deterrent; just in case…..
How bad to you want that goose instead of just part of the eggs?
But it is a M.A.D. question too – Xi and the Taiwanese chip makers do not want to be economically ruined – and the makers end up in Gulags if they do not go along and keep the foundries intact, so they would be compliant if the outcome is assured – but still….Like the Russian Gas Pipelines – who knows who would do demolition on them if things got kicked off. But then say Biden has them blown up, the American economy would drop 40% too, but then it stops China having that power over USA (Like before WWII how USA cut off Japan’s oil and steel – to use this guys analogy, Like how Russia is cutting European oil)
I wonder about this question because the entire Global economy depends on the uninterrupted output of these manufacturers. This guy did not even mention this side of it, the what happens if it goes bad and output stops rather than just changing hands. China cannot even make toys and microwave ovens without them. The world would grind to a halt.
You’re quite right, Mi5 & fbi issued a statement back in June or July saying exactly that: because if China decides to invade Taiwan, it would cause “one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen“.
America aren’t backing off though.
This is another reason why it would almost certainly start WWIII. China seems dead set on taking Taiwan at any cost. When they do, America and Europe will have to do something, and they’ll have to do it in an environment of massive public outrage. We’ve already seen the damage done to Europe by sanctioning Russia. Sanctioning China in a similar manner would be several orders of magnitude worse. The people in America would be irate. There’s already a lot of anger towards China here, and a lot of anger in general. Sad as this is to say, a war might solve a lot of America’s domestic problems all at once. The government would have to intervene directly in the economy more than they have since WWII. They’d be building new mines and factories to replace what was lost. There would be jobs for all and probably immigrants as well. It would be a time to find common cause again and refocus on a changed future. I don’t particularly like or support any of that, but I know my history, and I’m calling it as I see it. The thing that might prevent a global conflict is if some of the Asian powers like Japan, South Korea, and India came out against a war, but that’s far from certain. It’s just as likely they would be pushing the opposite direction out of fear they’d be next.
That’s why plants are being built in the west, finally.
I’m not convinced. There may be a counterargument here. China is good at stealing technologies, and its universities are catching up with the West. So, it’s not a given they’ll be falling behind indefinitely.
I think you’re right I read a book by Jacob rees mogg dad called blood in the streets, about investing but has a chapter about why the British empire fell, can’t remember where but it was a recommended read for understanding the rise of China and how its tech might go further and faster than ours, and how the tech that an empire uses to gain the upper hand, eventually looses its edge and advantages as others take it on, improve on it then turn it back on that empire, very brief summary, it was a really good read borrow it online for free here for any interested, do have to sign up but its a really good site for getting stuff that’s out of print:
From pg 29
Xi is rational but he has one aim that trumps all others: staying in power.
This aim trumps everything, the economy, the lives of millions of his citizens, everything.
Invading Taiwan is a risk, it might go wrong, just look at Putin’s problems with some of his key gang members now openly disagreeing with his policy (OK not naming him personally but near enough)
Xi will invade Taiwan if:
- A prowar faction within the CCP gains in power. This might threaten his absolute power so he might have to invade to appease them.
- He actually believes that the West will do nothing and he will get away with it. This seems to have been the reason behind Putin’s decision
At present the Chinese military is happy playing with its new toys, as long as he can keep funnelling cash to them they will remain happy.
It looks like the west might do something if he invades Taiwan so the risk is high.
We often think that these personal dictatorships have policies, discussions, opinions etc like us. But no, there is just one guy grasping for power, nothing else.
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”
(Publius Flavius Vegetius.)
quot homines tot sententii
Nunc est bibendum!
I’ve been prepping for months…. Has all this business turned anyone else into a reluctant prepper?
Sorry, but what is a “prepper”? It sounds rather hard work!
it is the opposite of the un-prepped, or unprepared. It also has a fetished and addicted fallowing in USA, and they will be very disappointed if nothing happens as they are so into it.
I think modest, but well carried out, preppng almost a civic duty as it means one can be able to not become a complete ward of the state should some infrastructure break, allowing resources to be directed at others. Although it should be done with an eye to not creating waste. The amount I put up, over 20 years of life span (projected) is not great, and was put up wile there was plenty.
I have two English Springer Spaniels, two 12 bore shotguns, a .308 High Velocity rifle, and a .22 rifle, is that enough?
I’ve got a .22 spring action rifle, not much use though, slow reload, might give the opponent a good bruise 🙂 my dad used to have a gun licence, I had 20 bore semi automatic beretta, he lives on a boat now though so not allowed them. Can get our own rabbits if needed though.
May I suggest you get both a Shotgun and Firearms License as soon as possible. The guns themselves are currently “as cheap as chips” as long as you don’t want anything fancy. The Home Office is currently pursuing a vendetta to reduce the number of shotgun and firearms licences because they ‘fear the worst’. ( with good reason, it must be candidly said.)
Might look into it, thanks, yes indeed, I heard they are much stricter now, still got an old manual spring break your arm clay trap too – held onto it just incase!
Not really just smart shopping and rotation to keep at least a month of food in the house, mostly because here in UK if something happens everyone will hit the supermarkets and strip them, I can sit that out 🙂 worked a wonder when we got locked down.
You mean you did not Prep when covid began? I got food grade, 100% sealable containers (5 gallon size), filled them with rice, some dried beans, and added ‘Oxygen Eaters’, little sachets that remove O2 (from Amazon – they use Iron dust in a clay – and the oxygen is consumed fast by basically turning the Fe into rust – they suck the lid right down as the O2 is removed) – they say it is good for 20 years minimum. I did not go crazy, 20 pounds per family person. Then 4 cans of beef or chicken or fish per person, and a case of baked beans between us, 5 pounds of sealed sugar. That was it – I do not keep a gun for defense, but have a old gun I hunted with, and got 2 boxes of ammo as I had none – so intentionally did not go that direction as I do not wish to be a paranoid armed prepper – just a casual insurance.
about $ 50 a person and should be good decades. Not very expensive insurance if there is a glitch in the system. (the containers and o2 eaters were half the cost, but I bought the very cheapest rice/beans) I did that over time in 2020 – 2021, and have added nothing else.
Mate I started when they shut china down at the start and everyone thought I was a lunatic, I did wonder myself if I was, but avoided all the long supermarket qs and nutters buying millions of loo rolls at the start, ate that lot down and used up the flour when everything calmed down again, have been building up tins by buying 5 or 6 extra a week, basic stuff like toothpaste, bar soap and a few sacks of bulk flour, and pasta, then use and rotate so we have about a month of stuff just in case, that way you don’t end up with waste and its not expensive buying loads of stuff at once, got 5 year old want to make sure for her we are OK. Plus if something does kick off like covid the supermarkets will be stripped again. I’m in UK not started an armoury yet hoping its not going to get that bad 🙂 but we’ll see… Just seen russia has accused us of blowing up the nord stream. Anyone thoughts on that?
Also haven’t heard of oxygen eaters I’ll check that out thanks!
O for those happy days, long ago, fishing on the Slough Cut eh?
Crashing round the grand Union, normally with my mum shouting at him, retirement dream.
I seem to recall, the railways were still steam then, much to the pleasure of all young and old.
LOL. Somehow my eyes glossed over “China” in the title of this article and read “John Gray will invade Taiwan by 2025.” The world really is going down the tube!
I certainly hope the US will not defend Taiwan if China attacks it. And I don’t think we will. It would be hypocritical if we did. We have accepted the fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, and that there is only one China. How hypocritical it would be to now aid a rebellious province in a war against its parent country.
But diplomatic recognition is an abstract matter. What matters in the real world is realpolitik. Taiwan is right next door to China, a pipsqueak in comparison. Taiwan cannot defend itself. But even if we used all our military might, we could not defeat China. Nor would we have a lot of support from other countries around the world.
Nancy Pelosi was foolish to poke around in Taiwan and stir up a hornet’s nest in China. But she has the hornets buzzing and I don’t think they are going to quiet down. Of course, I may be wrong. We’ll see, as Donald Trump always says, what happens.
When has a sense of moral consistency and fear of hypocrisy ever prevented America from starting a war? For that matter, when have basic facts ever prevented America from starting a war?
I thought it was going to kick off when she visited, I couldn’t believe it when she landed and they let her back her out, was half expecting to wake up to the news Nancy Pelosi plane shot down over Taiwan…. Welcome to ww3. I really hope America won’t defend it either, (looks like they are likely to though) but I can’t see it going too well for them and that’s not because I want China to win, I’m just pragmatic. Might be wrong though, I don’t know… Plus if they decide to fight over it can’t see there being much of Taiwan left afterwards, so long term big waste of lives, money, everything.
Amphibious invasion across 80 miles of sea onto a western coastline that, I understand, is far from ideal terrain for such an operation? Despite the weight of the Chinese military that’s v risky and could go badly wrong. Xi would be rolling the dice.
Thus a blockade seems more likely and perhaps the historical comparison then closer to a Berlin Airlift scenario for the West? That of course has huge risk on both sides of an escalation. A blockade would clearly trigger a massive economic worldwide shock and quite how that would play out in China unclear. Perhaps the imponderable for Xi is how long could they blockade without the costs becoming too great to internal stability on the mainland?
Xi will wait a little longer and see how strong our resolve remains on Ukraine. He and Putin are heavily counting on western alliances and resolve fracturing and no doubt working hard on undermining our institutions and democratic processes.
An Armada consisting of Sinbad & Co plus 1% of Albanian males aged 18-40 have managed the 21 miles “of sea” we used to call the English Channel, so why can’t Fu Manchu & Co do 80?
Incidentally the ‘Bard’ as you may recall, referred to the Channel as “this precious stone set in the silver sea, which served it in the office of a moat or as a wall defensive to a house”. Those days are well gone, thanks to the unforgivable dereliction of duty by HMG.
One of key reasons we built up an invasion armada and got across the channel 78 yrs ago was Nazi intelligence and air reconnaissance was non-existent. Whereas now the Taiwanese and Americans via spy satellites, and no doubt other forms of surveillance we never hear about, can see every ship in every port and almost what every PAC personnel had for breakfast. There is no way such attack can be a surprise and that means it will be met with significant force before it gets to any landing. That does not mean it could not succeed but it would be one heck of a struggle. And as Xi will have noted from Ukraine, what appears an overwhelming advantage before a conflict sometimes doesn’t play out like that.
A direct sudden invasion still unlikely, particularly now the US has stiffened its support for Taiwan. More likely political interference in next years Taiwan elections, the hope American and Allies resolution weakens, and then perhaps some form of blockade.
Anything other than a quick win for Xi has significant jeopardy for him and he’ll be mindful of that.
And as you’ll have noted, we don’t have 2 UK aircraft carriers and batch of F15s to chase rubber dingies around the silver sea.
I can tell this migrant channel business is a real issue for you, I’ve seen you going on about it on other threads, some fun facts – our border force boats turn off there transponders after picking them up then just disappear halfway back across the channel, very strange yes? There’s so much illegal dodgy shenanagins involved with the channel migrants I couldn’t even start to get into it, but I can absolutely promise (very probably anyway) that behind it all are some very rich people, well connected running the show making enormous money from the whole business. And that is why it is allowed to continue and has got so out of hand. So if you don’t like it, and want to do something about it, that’s where you need to start. I imagine the kind of people running this kind of thing though are rich, slippery and would off you before you got close. Extract from the good old daily mail:
At that moment it had turned off its Automatic Identification System, known as AIS and used to pinpoint vessels’ positions and stop collisions.
This meant the cutter’s return journey to Dover with its migrant cargo was impossible to track for other ships or even maritime authorities monitoring the hundreds of sailings that day, in dangerously heavy fog in the Channel.
This covert behaviour follows the Mail’s shocking expose this month of how another Border Force cutter had entered French waters to pick up migrants and ferry them to Britain.
The collection on the French side of the Channel was organised in a public radio channel conversation between senior crew of Border Force’s Valiant and a French patrol ship Athos, that was heard by the Mail.
Our report sparked an investigation by Home Secretary Priti Patel, the result of which has not been announced publicly. But a Home Office source told us emphatically: ‘The job of Border Force is to secure the UK’s border, not to facilitate illegal entry into it.’
Since the expose, we have discovered a number of incidents that suggest Border Force is now trying to hide the way it is helping bring cross-Channel migrants into Britain. Seeker’s activity on Thursday – when it did not use public radio and switched off the AIS – is only the most recent.
We have heard numerous reports of highly irregular radio silence on public airwaves in recent days between Border Force vessels and French Navy ships, meaning that arrangements for migrant handovers at the sea frontier in the centre of the English Channel cannot be overheard.
In addition, there are claims that Border Force vessels are illegally and dangerously switching off AIS which means migrant pick-ups are not fully monitored.
A Home Office spokesperson refused to respond to the Mail investigation, saying: ‘we do not comment on operational matters in the Channel because to do so could provide an advantage to the ruthless criminals behind these crossings.’
That is some really dodgy old business, not likely to be changed by a little political agitation, too much money involved I would say.
Annoyingly I shall not be alive to see the day of reckoning, but it WILL come.
Yep and now you sound like a nutter again. Stop being rude about the migrants, ‘sinbad and co’ just isn’t cool. How shit must your life have to be to leave your own home and get in a dingy that may or may not make it to come to grim old England? They are being trafficked and encouraged by organised crime. The traffickers are the ones who deserve your abuse.
“It takes one to know one!” As you must recall?
However you also sound like a sanctimonious prig, do you not?
Are you perchance a Social Worker/Teacher/NHS worker or something of that ilk?
For accuracy I should have said Sinbad, Zog &; Co, how very remiss of me.
Ooooo I like that, sanctimonious prig, can I name my high horse that?
Seriously dude, I just urge you to see the facts and rethink your extreme outlook, that’s all….the people facilitating it are the problem. Anyway, I’ll take my high horse – Sanctimonious Prig and leave you in peace! Until next time…
There’s a very simple solution here: put nuclear weapons back on Taiwan.
We removed American nukes from Taiwan during the period of rapprochement and opening with China, as a gesture of trustbuilding and goodwill. That trust is gone and there’s no more goodwill. Sure, the Chinese will flap their wings up and down and tell anyone who will listen that America is provoking a nuclear war. But what they will mean is: “How dare you prevent us from just doing what we want.”
As the author says, they are not irrational, just illiberal. Nothing makes the case for democracy like losing Guangzhou.
No, Nuke ‘em now, and be done with it!
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