Adm. Scott H. Swift, a former U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, predicted that the past week will be viewed as pivotal in the relationship. China’s position will become “much more hardened,” he said, and Beijing would turn to “a playbook to draw much more timely, and perhaps pre-emptive responses” to efforts to support Taiwan.
Several officials have begun openly comparing Mr. Xi’s actions toward Taiwan to President Vladimir V. Putin’s efforts to seize Ukraine — a link that, even a few weeks ago, they hesitated to make. Speaking at the commemoration of the battle for the Solomon Islands 80 years ago, Wendy Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, denounced leaders who “believe that coercion, pressure and violence are tools to be used with impunity.” She did not name them but went on to say that they believed “the principles and institutions the world set up after the Second World War” can now be “ignored and undermined, diminished and destroyed.”
There are early indications that China alienated other powers with its show of force. The Group of 7 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued statements either condemning the action or urging China to back down, something that was missing from the last Taiwan crisis, in 1996, when the United States was largely alone in speaking out — and sending two carrier groups to the area.
Without question, the threats against Taiwan have hardened anti-China attitudes on Capitol Hill, where condemnation of Beijing is one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement. Several lawmakers have begun talking about China and Russia as common adversaries of the United States, even if there is little evidence that they are working together.
Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, termed the threats to Taiwan as “another reminder that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators Xi Jinping of China and Putin of Russia. They are increasingly isolated and dangerous, driven by historical grievances, paranoid about their democratic neighbors and willing to use military force and other aggressive actions to crush the citizens of such countries as we are seeing in the Taiwan Strait and Ukraine.”