China closes in on Taiwan as Xi purges potential opponents from CCP

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on defending Taiwan

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Xi Jinping has reportedly purged the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of all potential opponents and elevated a number of loyalists, sparking concern he is now in a stronger position to invade Taiwan. China has recently escalated military activity around the island, which it claims as its own territory.

According to senior defence figures, Beijing could be capable of invading Taiwan by 2027.

President Xi has previously pledged to reach the goal of “national rejuvenation” by 2047, the centenary of the People’s Republic of China.

Last week’s CCP congress saw Xi reappointed for a record third term, as well as a cleansing of the central committee, the politburo, the seven-member standing committee (PSC) and the Xi-led central military commission (CMC), which is in charge of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Analysts studying China’s process have agreed that their plans for invading Taiwan have not slowed down, according to The Guardian.

Professor Steve Tsang, the director of the Soas China Institute, said the changes made last week have certainly increased the risk of China using force against Taiwan.

While the Chinese Government was already unlikely to object, Tsang added: “By replacing non-loyalists by proteges and loyalists in the party [including the PLA], Xi has made sure that no one will ever contradict him.

“The risk of one man making a bad judgment and starting a war is always greater than a group of them doing so.”

Taiwan’s defence minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, has suggested Beijing is “boosting its preparedness” for an invasion.

Associate professor of political science at the University of California Victor Shih even claimed the new party lineup would ensure Xi’s orders would be carried out “however extreme”.

Mr Shih added: “This may include a decision to invade Taiwan. Of course, preparing for something doesn’t mean it will happen.”

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In an almost two hour long speech made last week, President Xi made numerous references to Taiwan and emphasised his commitment to “reunification”.

The amendments to the CCP’s guiding constitution also reinforced Beijing’s more aggressive stance on Taiwan.

While it once listed Taiwan alongside Hong Kong and Macau as a place with which to “build solidarity”, it has now sworn to “resolutely oppose and constrain Taiwan independence”.

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