The South China Morning Post (May 4) reported that in an interview on May 4, retired PLAAF Major General Qiao Liang, co-author of the book 'Unrestricted warfare' and a Chinese foreign policy 'hawk', has warned that the coronavirus pandemic should not be seen as a chance for Beijing to take back Taiwan by force. He said that was not the top priority and the focus should be on the “national rejuvenation” dream. He said “China’s ultimate goal is not the reunification of Taiwan, but to achieve the dream of national rejuvenation – so that all 1.4 billion Chinese can have a good life.” “Could it be achieved by taking Taiwan back? Of course not. So we shouldn’t make this the top priority. If Beijing wants to take Taiwan back by force, it will need to mobilise all its resources and power to do this." He added “You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, it’s too costly.” In a social media post on May 4, Qiao Liang said nationalism appeared to be driving some proposals being raised in China, and that they would harm the country. He said “It’s undeniable that the US has been in a hurry to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, and its military strength is reduced … however [the virus crisis] just creates a short tactical window [for China] which is not big enough to solve the strategic dilemma it will face in the future – unless it’s almost certain that Covid-19 will lead to the collapse of the United States”. Qiao Liang said while a move by the PLA to take Taiwan by force may not prompt Washington to declare war, it could join forces with its allies in the region to use their sea and air advantages to cut off Beijing’s maritime lifeline in the South China Sea. He said other Western countries may also be convinced to impose sanctions on Beijing that would curb the country’s economic development. Saying that that Beijing should make clear that its top priority was not to take Taiwan back but to achieve its long-term goal of “national rejuvenation” -- President Xi Jinping’s so-called Chinese dream of becoming a fully developed nation by 2049 -- he explained “The Taiwan issue is actually a key problem between China and the US, even though we have insisted it is China’s domestic issue. In other words, the Taiwan issue cannot be completely resolved unless the rivalry between Beijing and Washington is resolved.” Qiao Liang also noted that the Chinese economy was still heavily reliant on the US dollar, and said a war over Taiwan would be a massive economic blow for China that would see capital flooding out of the country and many companies being forced to close. “This would just be a huge price to pay and it would jeopardise China’s goal of national rejuvenation,” he said.

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