WASHINGTON — The international reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s early military troubles there are likely giving China pause in its quest to take over Taiwan, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Speaking before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, U.S. spy chiefs said that Chinese President Xi Jinping remains determined on Taiwan, but is likely unsettled by the united Western reaction to Russia’s invasion and the stiff economic sanctions that Washington and its allies swiftly imposed.
“I would not underestimate President Xi and the Chinese leadership’s determination with regard to Taiwan,” Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns told the panel. But Beijing has “been surprised and unsettled to some extent by what they’ve seen in Ukraine over the last 12 days, everything from the strength of the Western reaction to the way in which Ukrainians have fiercely resisted, to the relatively poor performance of Russia” militarily.
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“I think there’s an impact on — on the Chinese calculus with regard to Taiwan, which we obviously are going to continue to pay careful attention to,” Burns said.
Beijing regards Taiwan, a democratically governed island and longtime security partner of the U.S., as a breakaway territory and has not ruled out using military force to take control, making it a potential flashpoint for conflict between the powers.
An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.
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