Are tensions over Taiwan likely to rise? What to expect from Xi Jinping’s next five years in power?

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China’s Xi Jinping secured a third leadership term, which certainly will have several implications in the political spectrum, especially in terms of the simmering Taiwan issue. 

Xi introduced a top governing body stacked with loyalists and emerged with even more power over the ruling Communist Party after the five-year congress. He has solidified his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. 

On Sunday, the Communist Party also unveiled a major reshuffle in China’s top military leadership. Experts claimed that such changes are clear indications that the People’s Liberation Army will now be even more focused on Taiwan in the coming years. 

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In the reshuffle, General He Weidong was made the second-ranked vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission. The 72-year-old General Zhang Youxia was promoted to first-ranked vice-chairman. 

As per US officials, a conflict over the island is more imminent than ever, and China may invade as early as this year.  

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this month that China has made a “fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable, and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline.” 

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Tensions have flared up between China and US as Beijing views self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory. China even claimed that, in case needed, it will use force to unite the two territories. 

China claims that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will defy China’s one-nation policy by pushing for formal independence — a red line for the nation. 

Beijing maintains that its approach to Taiwan has not changed, but its actions toward the island have become more overt. At its recently concluded congress, the Communist Party for the first time enshrined its opposition to Taiwanese independence in its constitution. 

What are the implications if China attacks Taiwan?

In case China invades Taiwan, it would put a massive impact on the global supply chains as the island is a major supplier of semiconductors—a key component of nearly all modern electronics. 

It would also incite Western fury, leading to China’s isolation and pushing Beijing and Washington closer than ever to a direct military conflict. It put will also put an end to Taiwan’s hard-won democratic liberties. 

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