As Russia shows no signs of halting its assault on Ukraine, former President Donald Trump is making an ominous warning for the rest of the world: Taiwan is next.
Speaking to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday, Trump said the Russian invasion has Chinese President Xi Jinping watching with “glee” since Beijing purportedly sees it as a chance to execute what it has planned to do with the island for decades.
“Taiwan is going to be next. Just watch Taiwan,” Trump said. “President Xi is watching it with glee.”
China continues to send warplanes to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which serves as the island’s buffer zone. In early October, a record 150 sorties entered the area, sparking fears of a looming full-scale invasion. Such fears escalated after Moscow deployed troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 21. Two days later, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, without naming China, ordered all government units to “strengthen the prevention of cognitive warfare” against “foreign forces intending to manipulate the situation in Ukraine and affect the morale of Taiwanese society.” On Feb. 24 — the day Russia launched its full-scale invasion — China sent nine sorties to the ADIZ, which included eight Shenyang J-16 fighter jets and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft. By Tuesday, a Biden-appointed delegation of former defense and national security officials arrived in Taipei to assure the island of Washington’s security commitments.
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Trump, however, believes China will pursue invading Taiwan as “they’re seeing how stupid the United States is run.” The former president slammed the Biden administration — with all the sanctions it has activated against Russian President Vladimir Putin, his cronies and Russian oligarchs — as “incompetent.”
“Of course, they’re [China] going to do it. This is their time,” Trump told Bartiromo. “They [U.S.] did nothing on Ukraine. They do nothing.”
Biden highlighted “enforcing powerful economic sanctions” against Russia in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. He reiterated that U.S. forces will not engage in Ukraine but will defend NATO allies if Putin continues to move West.
Trump said Xi has been observing the U.S. response since the Afghanistan takeover last year. But he stressed that his administration did not “pull out” of Kabul, suggesting that the outcome would have been different if he were president.
“President Xi happens to be a man with a high intelligence level, and he looks at what happened in Afghanistan,” Trump said. “He saw the way that we left Afghanistan, like a surrender, left $85 billion dollars and deaths behind, and left American citizens there that are still trying to get out.
“He [Xi] sees that, and this is his opportunity to do what he wants to do … He’s wanted to do that and China’s wanted to do that for decades.”
China, for its part, has rejected comparisons between Taiwan and Ukraine while maintaining its claim to the self-governed island.
“Taiwan for sure is not Ukraine,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Feb. 23. “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact.” Xi himself has repeatedly voiced his intent to unify Taiwan with China, using force if necessary. Observers believe it could happen in 2027, when China’s military achieves full modernization, as per the ruling Communist Party. Former State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who served under Trump, also arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for a four-day visit. Tsai awarded him with the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon in recognition of his efforts to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan ties. Moscow’s invasion entered its ninth day on Friday, with Russian troops announcing that they have occupied Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant. However, they were still about 25 kilometers (more than 15 miles) away from Kiev’s city center, according to a senior U.S. defense official.