If Xi Jinping attacks Taiwan, he will be a 'sinner' of the Chinese people: Taiwan's top intelligence officer

He also played down the chances of a Chinese victory in the event of an invasion.

Kayla Wong | October 21, 2022, 03:05 PM

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Chinese President Xi Jinping would become a "sinner" of the Chinese people if he chooses to launch an attack on Taiwan, Mirror Media reported a Taiwanese official as saying.

A "sinner"

Taiwan's top intelligence official, Chen Ming-tong, said China has "no chance of victory" in an armed invasion of Taiwan.

"I would like to solemnly tell Beijing that an attack on Taiwan would result in economic sanctions targeted at China internationally, diplomatic isolation, a forfeit of any hopes of a 'great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation', and (Xi) would surely become a sinner of the Chinese."

The term "Chinese" used here refers to the ethnic group, rather than the nationality.

Chen, the Director-General of Taiwan's National Security Bureau, added that following China's economic reform, the country became the second largest economy in the world. Similarly, Taiwan's GDP per capita is about to outpace Japan and South Korea.

These were achieved without the Communist Party taking over the island, he said, adding that this goes to show that both sides should have mutual respect for each other and develop on their own separately.

Chen also responded to reporters who asked about Xi's remarks on Taiwan during his opening speech at the 20th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), saying Xi's words were "cliche", Taipei Times reported.

In addition, Chen said China could threaten war as early as next year to force Taipei to agree to talks designed to bring the island under Beijing's rule, adding that many totalitarian regimes do so to divert attention away from domestic woes like an economic downturn.

Economic slowdown

China's economic growth has slowed in the wake of widespread Covid lockdowns that brought business activity to a halt.

The Chinese government had delayed its release of key economy figures -- due on Oct. 18 -- at the congress, without revealing any reason or a date for the release, fuelling speculations that the authorities were trying to hide unfavourable data.

However, a prioritisation of the country's strict zero-Covid policies is a more likely reason, as top personnel involved in the congress had to abide by Covid rules, slowing down the approval process, according to a person familiar with the matter who was cited by Bloomberg.

In his speech, Xi's frequent mentions of "common prosperity", which he had pushed in 2021 when the economy experienced a slowdown, also indicated greater intervention by the party in private businesses, as pointed out by Foreign Policy. A push for "common prosperity" had resulted in tech and real estate crackdowns by the government.

Xi says China will never renounce force

Reiterating his Taiwan policy on Oct. 16 in the opening ceremony of the congress, Xi called for unification with the self-ruled island that Beijing considers part of its territory.

While he said Beijing will strive for "peaceful reunification", he said the Chinese government will "never promise to renounce the use of force" and to "reserve the option of taking all measures necessary" in order to bring Taiwan under its control.

Nevertheless, he clarified that this threat is directed solely at separatist forces aiming to interfere in Taiwan, and that it's not directed at "Taiwan compatriots".

Still, the lack of a revelation of any concrete plans for the takeover of the island was perhaps a good sign that an invasion is not likely on the cards in the near future, at least not till all other options to chip away at Taiwan's defences and willpower have been exhausted.

In Taiwan, the number of people who identify as exclusively Taiwanese continues to increase. Meanwhile, an overwhelming number of Taiwanese reject unification with China.

A May 2022 poll also found that about more than half (61.4 per cent) of Taiwanese would be willing to fight for the island in the event of a Chinese invasion, Central News Agency reported. In contrast, 25.1 per cent said they would not.

The percentage of those willing to defend Taiwan might have been affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a smaller country that is under constant threat from a powerful neighbour -- a situation that many Taiwanese can identify with.

Top image via Sergei Bobylyov/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images