CIA director: Ukraine war hasn't 'eroded Xi’s determination' to control Taiwan

China began voicing opinions on invading Taiwan hours after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.

Updated: May 10, 2022 - 12:03am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

China is undeterred in its ambitions to invade Taiwan, but Beijing is "very carefully" studying Russia's invasion of Ukraine to determine how to move forward with an invasion of the small island nation, CIA Director William Burns said.

"Clearly, the Chinese leadership is trying to look carefully at what lessons they should draw from Ukraine about their own ambitions in Taiwan," Burns observed during a discussion with the Financial Times on May 7.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed previously that "the historical task of the complete reunification" of China with Taiwan "must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled."

Burns said that the problems incurred by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Ukraine have not "eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan. But I think it’s something that’s affecting their calculation about how and when they go about doing that."

He added that he suspects China is "surprised" by Russia's military performance and Ukraine's resilience. 

"I think they’ve been struck by the way in which particularly the Transatlantic Alliance has come together to impose economic costs on Russia as a result of that aggression. So I think these are things that they’re weighing very carefully right now," Burns said.

Shortly after Russia's invasion began, China was already mulling an invasion of Taiwan.

"When unification with Taiwan will happen has nothing to do with Ukraine situation [sic]. There will be suspense as to when and how, but no suspense with the unification result. Anyone stupid enough to think that Taiwan will be separated from the mainland for ever?" Global Times commentator Hu Xijin tweeted hours later.

American officials have expressed concerns as well.

Texas GOP Rep. Michael McCaul predicted in March that Taiwan would "be the next shoe to drop" due to President Joe Biden's weakness.

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