The tone of Beijing’s rhetoric has changed, notes Richard Baum, a leading China specialist at the University of California in Los Angeles. The decibel-level of harsh anti-Chen polemic has subsided, replaced by a mood of “grim determination”, Baum said in a Yale Review article. “Before a tiger attacks, it remains calm and quiet,” one Chinese scholar told Baum.
Numerous US analysts believe that China’s military is close to reaching the capability it sees as necessary for an attack om special forces in Taiwan before the US Navy could execute its 30-day “surge” of massive reinforcements to the region – a Chinese version of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s “shock and awe”.
The decisive moment could come even as early as Taiwan’s elections for its legislature this December, when Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party is expected to sweep out many of the conservative Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist) oppositionists who have so far protected the existing constitution that sees Taiwan as part of China.
But most see 2006, when Chen introduces his constitutional reforms, as a critical time. Repeatedly, in recent months, Chinese spokesmen have warned that any price – large casualties and physical damage, broken diplomatic ties, economic reverses, and disruption of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing – will be paid to prevent Taiwan declaring its independence.
We’ve talked here about China and Taiwan before, and I’ve explained why I don’t think China will invade the ROC. (Not, however, to preclude military actions short of war, or a war without an actual invasion.)
But stories like this one have me thinking I could be wrong.