Ukraine crisis could motivate Chinas attack on Taiwan – what that means for West

Ukraine: Professor warns 'similar invasion' of Taiwan from China

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Even more concerning, the defence pact between Taiwan and the US could see other NATO countries dragged into a future conflict, it is feared.

For months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the island faced increasing incursions by Chinese aircraft.

Taiwan – seen by Beijing as a breakaway province – has been described by The Economist as the most “dangerous place on Earth” – due to its proximity to China.

The island also announced last month it will begin military drills to strengthen its defence – amid fears the Ukraine crisis could increase vulnerability to a similar attack.

Dr Zeno Leoni, a war studies expert from King’s College London, told “When Putin invaded Ukraine like he did in Crimea, he knew NATO wasn’t going to intervene. There wasn’t any deterrence to stop Putin.

“We’ve seen a lot of concern for Taiwan and I can appreciate why”.

But, unlike Ukraine, Taiwan has a defence pact with the US which means it would be required to defend the island should China try and invade.

Dr Zeno said: “The pact says the US will have to defend Taiwan. It doesn’t really say how and it will be up to the American congress whenever the time comes.

“There is some ambiguity but at least there is a pact.”

When asked if other NATO countries, including the UK, would be involved in backing the US, he said: “I guess it depends on article 5 of NATO.”

Article 5 lays out the alliance promise of collective defence – stating an attack on one member state is an attack against all member states and other NATO countries will intervene.

Dr Zeno said: “If it leads to the Chinese offending and attacking the US then yes that might trigger Article 5 and lead NATO members to contribute to the effort.”

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However, he said Beijing is seeing the strong economic sanctions placed on Russia by the West which may act as a deterrent should China plan an invasion of Taiwan similar to Putin’s regime.

He warned: “But on the other hand, China is also seeing that NATO is careful not to intervene.”

The defence expert said all countries are very careful when it comes to sanctioning China, which would be “more difficult” than sanctioning Russia, and therefore may be less of a deterrent to the country.

He added: “At least there is a defence pact, I think that is good for Taiwan compared to Ukraine.”

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