China is closely watching how the West behaves after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi Jinping has his sights set on Taiwan. The US has now put a damper on China’s desires. It could also spell the end for Chinese dictator Xi.

US President Joe Biden has announced his intention to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an invasion from China. The Democrat made the statement during his East Asia trip, where he is meeting with allies in the region.

Always informed: The course of the war in Ukraine in the ticker – attack on the Russian occupying mayor in the south-east of Ukraine

The People’s Republic currently has border disputes with 17 countries, from Japan to the Philippines. Each of these conflicts could escalate militarily at any time, but Taiwan has a special role in the ideology of China’s ruler Xi. He has threatened several times that he wants to take over the independent democratic island.

Beijing is hit hard by the fact that the United States has now promised military support to its beleaguered friend, who is also an important economic partner for Germany and Europe. Xi’s calculus was like that of his close friend Putin: both believed that the free world would not side with beleaguered little patches of earth that those in power saw as Ukraine and Taiwan, for fear of being at odds with the to forfeit the new rising empires they, Xi and Putin, ruled.

Alexander Görlach is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. The PhD linguist and theologian teaches democratic theory in Germany, Austria and Spain as an honorary professor at Leuphana University. In the 2017-18 academic year, he was at National Taiwan University and City University Hong Kong to conduct research on China’s rise. He is currently researching new technologies at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute and how they are used in democracies and abused in dictatorships.

But this calculation did not work out: on the contrary, the democratic world is more determined than ever to get involved in Ukraine and Taiwan. The primary purpose of President Biden’s trip to the region is to underscore America’s enduring commitment to the region. If the ruler in Beijing had its way, all countries in the western Pacific would have to cede something to China. The People’s Republic could then make international waters its own sovereign waters, block world trade and important Internet cables, and thus blackmail the free world at any time. No one wants to risk being blackmailed by either China or Russia over gas supplies.

Washington’s explicit commitment to Taiwan’s freedom will also have consequences for other countries’ China policies. Certainly not first that of the Federal Republic, because Chancellor Scholz will also wait and see here so as not to completely dupe his party, which has a close relationship with China. Bold steps are neither for Olaf Scholz nor for German politics as a whole. The fact is, however, that one of the pillars on which the German China policy was based is now being called into question by Washington: the One China policy.

Couchsurfing in Russia: How I almost became a Putin understander

This stated that both parties to the civil war, the People’s Republic led by Mao Zedong and the Republic of China, whose leadership retreated to Taiwan after the lost civil war, claim to be the “real China”. As the USA and Taiwan have always understood, this historic conflict can only be resolved peacefully and through negotiations. For most of the past 73 years, both states have simply coexisted. However, Xi Jinping has made it his passion to “reunite” Taiwan with China, as he puts it.

This is no longer in line with the “one China policy”, which is why the US is right when it announces that it will help its partner. Japan has also hinted that a Chinese war against Taiwan would threaten Tokyo’s security interests. The United States maintains an important military base on Okinawa, not far from Taiwan.

The world now has clarity: Xi Jinping can no longer simply do as he sees fit. In Beijing people are fuming about it. Because for Xi Jinping, who is now the subject of quiet, hesitant criticism within the CP for his Russia and Covid policies, the US commitment to Taiwan comes at an inopportune time. Because it is only due to his excessive – if not to say haughty – that the People’s Republic is now only a stone’s throw away from a war with the United States. A war China cannot win.

Xi, on the other hand, cannot go back on his announcement that he will conquer Taiwan. Otherwise he loses face. The only way out for Beijing would therefore be not to proclaim Xi ruler a third time in the fall, but to force him to withdraw. For this, however, more opposition must first form in the Chinese Communist Party. The US has increased external pressure today.