Relations between China and Taiwan are strained. Recently, the question arose as to whether the Middle Kingdom would attack its neighbor. There were plenty of threats. Several experts assume that it will be so far in a few years.

In answering the question of whether the People’s Republic of China will attack and occupy neighboring Taiwan in the near future, observers compare the following aspects.

When will Beijing be able to train and equip the People’s Liberation Army for a successful conquest of the island republic, when will the Taiwanese army be strong enough to repel the attack from the mainland?

In the summer of last year, the China expert at Stanford University, Oriana Skylar Mastro, predicted in an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine entitled “The Taiwan Temptation” that China would attack Taiwan in 2027.

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Mastro justified this date, among other things, by saying that the major military reform that Xi Jinping began in 2015 should be completed and the army modernized. Part of this reform is that the Russian military should train the Chinese in guerrilla techniques and urban warfare.

Now the journalist Katie Bo Lillis, who is responsible for security and intelligence at the television station CNN, writes on Twitter that China’s ruler Xi Jinping is said to have given the military the year 2027.

The army should then be ready and able to take Taiwan by force. Lillis cited a senior CIA official as her source.

Time is of the essence for China’s leader Xi: In early September, the US Congress approved arms sales to Taiwan worth 1.1 billion US dollars. Beijing fumed, Washington countered that the US has been helping ensure Taiwan’s defense security through arms sales for four decades.

In November 2021 it became known that Taiwan, with the help of some of its allies, is building its own submarine fleet to defend the island against an attack. It will be at least another ten years before it can be delivered.

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So Xi must strike before the new military balance of power between the two countries recalibrates. The Ukraine war has taught Beijing that it must not underestimate the willingness of the people of an independent country to defend themselves.

At the same time, it could not be ruled out that the mood in China would change if the People’s Republic, like Russia now, had to mourn thousands of dead soldiers.

However, the USA is not doing justice to the urgency of the situation, the magazine Foreign Affairs criticizes in an article: “If Washington really wants to prevent Beijing from cutting off Taiwan from the outside world or from attacking it in the next five years, it must clearly show its speed and pace tighten and take a new approach.”

And further: “In the Ministry of Defense, the issue must be given top priority. Investments must be made in new, promising weapon systems, better software and technologies. And: The US must eliminate the reasons that are currently preventing it from successfully repelling a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

The two authors, who work on relevant security issues at the university and think tank, praise the fact that they have understood what happened and what needs to be done in response. However, willing and accomplishing are two different things.

The future is open until it has happened. This means that, although the year 2027 has been mentioned several times, a lot can still happen before then.

Other voices say that without the semiconductors that are produced in Taiwan, mobile phones would no longer be assembled in China and cars would roll off the assembly line in the People’s Republic. Attacking Taiwan would too severely affect global supply chains and the Chinese economy, which is currently under attack.

So for now, those interested in Taiwan’s security will have to work with what they have. And that is what Xi Jinping said. The year 2027 may be a turning point for Taiwan.

Alexander Görlach is Honorary Professor of Ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. The PhD linguist and theologian is currently working on a project on “digital cosmopolitanism” at the Internet Institute at Oxford University and the Faculty of Philosophy at New York University.

Alexander Görlach was a Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in the USA and Cambridge University in England. After stints in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he has focused on the rise of China and what it means for East Asian democracies in particular. He has recently published the following titles: “Red Alert: Why China’s Aggressive Foreign Policy in the Western Pacific Is Leading to a Global War” (Hoffmann

From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the New York Times. He lives in New York and Berlin.