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The Day When China Regained Taiwan

The Day When China Regained Taiwan

Monday, 25 April, 2022 - 10:30
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The employee was in a state of panic. He couldn’t believe the incoming sentences. He read them again and again. The president must be awakened no matter how tired he is. Information poured from the intelligence and the chief general. The master of the White House woke up to the horrific news. It is a catastrophe that puts America on an unprecedented suicide test… and the whole world in danger.


In his pajamas, the president hurried to his phone to call the German chancellor, the master of the Elysée and the resident of 10 Downing Street. He also contacted the Japanese prime minister, who was out of words.


The administration staff rushed to the offices, fearing of being overwhelmed by the events. Those included the National Security Adviser, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the CIA, and a handful of senior military personnel with their medals and decorations.


The president lamented his bad luck. He was forced to choose the lesser of many evils. There was no need to inform those present of what had happened. The news invaded Twitter and big screens.


Xi Jinping did what Mao Zedong did not dare to do. The Chinese army entered Taiwan, making the Chinese president the only leader to bring the branch back to its root.


The master of the Kremlin summoned his staff. His economy was bleeding profusely from the sanctions, but now the game is bigger and more dangerous. He gave an ironic smile and murmured: “The American era is over.”


Meanwhile, the NATO generals were reviewing frightening scenarios that they believed would not make their way to the ground. They were confident that the man on Mao’s throne, who was leading the world’s second economy, would not risk the fate of his country for the sake of Taiwan. They thought that he would instead wait for the fruit to ripen under pressure and then fall, and that he preferred to continue walking on the “Silk Road” away from great adventures.


The US President discussed the developments with his staff, the leaders of NATO and the heads of allied Asian countries. The military option is suicidal because it paves the way for a nuclear confrontation and the destruction of the global economy. There is no choice but economic sanctions and sending deadly weapons to neighboring countries, which are trembling from the horror of what is happening and what may await them.


In New York, the Secretary-General of the United Nations woke up as if he had received a series of painful blows to the head. He remembered Stalin’s sarcasm when he talked about the military battalions under the commands of the Pope. He will issue a stern statement recalling international law. He knows that the Security Council has no role when one of the permanent members is directly involved in the conflict. Any attempt to condemn the move will collide with the veto sword. He will do what he has to and will add this terrifying chapter to his memoirs, which he is secretly drafting in preparation for the end of his term.


Red marks filled the screens of the stock exchanges, announcing the great collapse, as if the world was dying.


Before the Russian war in Ukraine, it was impossible to imagine a scenario like the one with which I started this article. The rise of the current Chinese leader reveals a man of accurate calculations, who is well versed in the legacy of his predecessors, the conditions of the “global village” and the balances of the international system that prevailed in the past decades. I listened to him years ago in Davos and had a strange feeling that the leader of the Chinese Communist Party could really be entrusted with globalization, the flow of capital, investment projects and prosperity.

I admired the man who succeeded in lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and recording a major technological leap without embracing the model that Washington considers the only and obligatory path to prosperity, progress and stability.


Xi’s image among his followers led them to believe that he was not among the gamblers who can throw their country and its achievements into an earthquake with unpredictable consequences and repercussions. But we are writing under the weight of harsh scenes that we have never expected to see in Ukraine as a result of a bitter struggle with the Russian army.


I have been following Vladimir Putin since he entered the Kremlin. It was remarkable that Russia hired a former KGB officer who closely witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall and, after that, the fall of the Soviet Union. I heard from communists who know Moscow that Putin is the fruit of a decision taken by the military and security establishment to turn the page on the weak and helpless Russia that the world knew during the era of Boris Yeltsin.


As the years passed, it became clear that the unpopular president always carried with him his Soviet wound, a project for revenge against the West, and a dream of recovering some of the “property” of the Soviet Union.


However, as I believed in Putin’s ingenuity, I had never thought that the Russian forces would invade Ukraine in this way. It was no secret that he hated the Western model, the color revolutions, and civil society activists, but I thought he would destabilize the Ukrainian regime and would only intervene as a savior.


My certainty was based on his experience in Syria. He waited too long to become the last lifeline for Bashar al-Assad’s regime and an urgent need for Iran’s “crescent” and for the countries of the region, so that they do not see Syria fall into the grip of fundamentalism and terrorism.


Putin has prepared the conditions for the Russian military intervention in Syria. The people of the region have accepted it and the world has recognized it. He even succeeded to pass the issue of Crimea with minimal losses.


It is clear that America mismanaged its great victory in the wake of the Soviet collapse. It did not seriously attempt to expand the European space to accommodate a wounded Russia and a Turkey vacillating between the pains of history and the bridges of geography.


America had to recognize the right of others to advance according to the will of their people, the colors of their cultures, and the maturity of transformations in their societies.


It is impossible to impose the Western model on societies who have different experiences, cultures, stages of development and conditions of stability. America fell into a deep misunderstanding with its enemies and its allies.


The United States missed a golden opportunity to lay the foundations for a less dangerous world. It has shown weakness in understanding that the planet cannot be managed by imposing uniforms on different societies.


This does not mean that the responsibility rests with the United States alone. The orphans of former empires, who remained hostages of “narrow” maps, are also to blame. But we are in a dangerous world open to many horrors. A world that allows a journalist to imagine Xi Jinping doing what Mao was unable to achieve, which is to restore Taiwan by military force and thus put the entire globe in the eye of the storm.


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