Taiwan’s foreign minister has said he believes China is now “more likely” to invade Taiwan to distract from leader Xi Jinping’s domestic problems.
Speaking exclusively to Sky News in his first sit-down interview of the year, Joseph Wu set 2027 as the key date such action will most likely happen.
His words come at a time when tensions across the Taiwan strait are the highest they’ve been for many years, with China now flying fighter jets towards Taiwanese airspace on a daily basis.
Mr Wu also said that the current “status quo” arrangement, in which Taiwan is self-governing but does not officially declare independence, “might not last forever”, in a rare acknowledgement that the island might one day either be assimilated by China or become an independent country.
Taiwan is a democratic, self-governing island that China sees as its own.
Mr Wu acknowledged that “the situation in the last year compared to the two previous years is much worse”, but said: “To me, 2027 is the year that we need to watch out for.”
“In 2027, Xi Jinping is likely to go into his fourth term, and, if in his previous three terms he cannot claim any achievement during his office, he might need to think about something else for him to claim as his achievement or his legacy.
“If you look at the Chinese situation right now, the economy is going down. People are not happy, the real estate business seems to be melting down.
“If Xi Jinping cannot change the situation domestically in China, you might want to resort to a use of force or creating a crisis externally to divert domestic attention or to show to the Chinese that he has accomplished something.
“We are concerned that Taiwan might become his scapegoat.”
Mr Wu said that the “worst case scenario” happening is now “more likely” than in previous years. “Very often, you see the sum of a tiny little accident might spark into a major war.
“We worry that might happen.”
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