If the Chinese are smart, what they'll learn from Ukraine & US Gulf wars is that wars of conquest are futile & outdated. So long as Taiwan resists any invasion as Ukraine has, all China will win, if it wins, is a wrecked country full of people who hate it AND world-wide hostility. War is no longer about conquering territory & people. The last were Prussia's in the 19th century. In 1914, Germany went to war to prevent Russia's & France's economies from dominating it; in the 1930s, Germany went to war for lebensraum in the East, and Japan, for it's Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. Both countries could have "won the peace," as they have since 1945. China can do the same, if it begins to think of Taiwan as the US thinks about Canada & Mexico, both countries against which it waged wars of conquest in the 19th century.

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“At the same time, the Chinese in the past couple of years appear to have realised that confrontational diplomatic approaches erodes Chinese influence and this lesson may be a key reason for recent moderation in Chinese diplomatic interactions with other nations.”

The wolf warrior policy Xi enacted will surely go down as the biggest own goal ever. It let many see the real china lurking in the shadows and has helped unify all China’s neighbours. I can’t imagine any country coming to help China in a war unlike the west.

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While there are many things the PLA is learning from Ukraine, there is something they cannot learn that is ultimately the most important: how to conduct a combined arms amphibious assault across the Taiwan strait against a motivated enemy. Nothing of that scale has been attempted. What they can learn about naval operations is that unmanned drones and long range anti-ship missiles can be a great equalizer as the Russian Black Sea fleet has discovered. China can also learn that UAVs with low radar signatures can thwart AD and radar, thus leaving a cross strait operation subject to easier interdiction. Xi can also see the impact on the Russian economy. While sanctions have not been all that some hoped, the economy is suffering from inflation and lack of labor. Why would Xi, whose economy deeply depends on the west in many respects, make his own domestic economy even worse?

Of course, all this depends upon what Xi is being told and given his cult of personality, may not be getting solid advice as you have alluded to, Mick. The question for the west is this: Does Xi really believe his own cult of personality such that he could engage in what I would call a vanity project and risk so much for so little economic or global influence gain?

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If I'm Xi, what I've learned is:

1. Nukes guarantee no kinetic intervention

2. Going for a swift, knock-out regime change blow generates more blowback than it's worth

3. It's the aid from abroad that matters: block that, you may not need kinetic action

4. US leaders are so wrapped up in their own mythology they are almost guaranteed to walk into a lethal trap if and when Beijing decides that the time has come.

5. The US cannot fight without its allies; if you want a fight, push the US into making the first overt moves. This will provoke every bad memory of US failings and double dealings and delay a unified response until it's too late.

6. Be patient and don't over-reach. Had Putin only struck at Donbas with all his force, victory in the east would have been very likely and the Zelensky government would have been destabilized.

Unfortunately for the world, leaders don't always understand their own position. So now we've got to hedge against Beijing doing something rash and dumb. I've got a thousand curses for the "end of history" crowd.

Final note: the more it looks like the US is organizing a new Cold War/containment alliance aimed at Beijing, the worse the situation will become over time. Middle powers gotta demonstrate the ability and will to operate without the USA. Time to hedge, folks.

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