TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he believes Beijing is planning to take over Taiwan in the next decade.
In an editorial he wrote for U.S. magazine Newsweek on Tuesday (Feb. 16), Rudd pointed out that Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) is ambitiously trying to elevate himself to the level of the late communist leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東). He said this could be achieved if Xi manages to outcompete the U.S. military and "capture" Taiwan within the next 10 years.
Citing reports by the U.S. Department of Defense as well as from Taiwan, Rudd noted that Beijing has developed plans to parallel its military capability with that of the U.S. by 2027. He added that China has attempted to keep the U.S. out of the Taiwan Strait by using anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) technology.
Rudd said top Chinese officials, including Xi, have begun to realize that a "peaceful unification" with Taiwan is becoming less likely. He said the "one country, two systems" formula proposed by China was also undermined by its mishandling of Hong Kong.
Rudd said the only way that Beijing could seize Taiwan is by installing "overwhelming military power in the Taiwan Strait" and ridding the country of support from the U.S. However, Taiwan's own defense capabilities, which have been boosted by U.S. arms sales in recent years, as well as U.S. determination to secure its Asian allies, remain unpredictable factors for Beijing, he said.
Meanwhile, Rudd noted that tensions between the U.S. and China are unlikely to ease under the Biden administration as some experts had anticipated. He suggested that the two major powers engage in a "managed strategic competition," in which Washington should adhere to the "one China" principle and Beijing should reduce its military activity near Taiwan, to prevent a potential conflict.
Rudd emphasized that the U.S. and China should compete under a framework instead of "having no rules at all." He added that it would be a success if no military conflict occurs in the Taiwan Strait by 2030.