TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An Australian think tank director on Monday (May 18) predicted that China could create an "international crisis" over the Taiwan Strait next year to distract from its poor handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), on Monday told Sky News Australia there is a "very real possibility" that Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) will try to create an international crisis to distract from the "failings" of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) in its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Jennings said the objective would be to stoke nationalist fervor through a "rally around the flag effect" by starting a crisis involving the Taiwan Strait.
Jennings pointed out that because July of next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the CCP, he predicted there will likely be an "almost artificial crisis" in mid-2021. He suggested that while an outright war may not take place, some other highly aggressive military action, such as a blockade, may occur to assert "China's wish for Taiwan to be part of the Chinese system."
The ASPI leader mentioned the South China Sea as another major potential flashpoint in 2021. Jennings described China's "assertive" military posture in the region as having reached the point where there is "quite literally the risk of aircraft being shot out of the sky or ships sunk."
Jennings noted that China has thus far "annexed" approximately 80 percent of the South China Sea, which is similar in size to the Mediterranean Sea. He concluded that the sea and the Taiwan Strait are two areas where "military brinksmanship" could lead to an international crisis in "the very short term."