You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

China Planned Taiwan Invasion in Fall, Alleged Russian Intel Leak Claims

Newsweek logo Newsweek 16/03/2022 John Feng

Taiwan's top diplomat said he couldn't speak on the authenticity of a purported Russian intelligence document that claimed Chinese President Xi Jinping had plans to annex the island nation this fall.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at Elysee Palace for a state visit on March 25, 2019, in Paris, France. In a series of purported leaked FSB letters published since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, an alleged Russia intelligence analyst claimed Xi was considering a plan to invade Taiwan in fall. © Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at Elysee Palace for a state visit on March 25, 2019, in Paris, France. In a series of purported leaked FSB letters published since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, an alleged Russia intelligence analyst claimed Xi was considering a plan to invade Taiwan in fall.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs, said on Wednesday that his country would have to prepare regardless. "No matter if or when China decides to attack us, we must always be ready to defend ourselves," he told reporters in Taipei.

During a defense committee hearing in the island's legislature, Wu told lawmakers that he was aware of media reports about the document said to be written by an anonymous analyst with Russia's Federal Security Service calling themself "Wind of Change." The foreign minister said he wasn't able to verify the alleged FSB document, but said Taiwan's own intelligence services were closely monitoring relevant chatter.

The letter in question is part of a series published by France-based Russian dissident Vladimir Osechkin, a human rights lawyer who runs gulagu-net.ru, a website documenting abuses in Russian jails. Osechkin claims to have received seven letters since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The FSB whistleblower has painted a detailed picture of fear and chaos inside Russia's principal intelligence service, where apparently none but a select few were aware of Putin's plans.

Christo Grozev, the executive director of investigative journalism group Bellingcat, said earlier this month that his FSB contacts believe the whistleblower to be authentic, even if they didn't agree with the conclusions of his analysis.

In the fourth letter to Osechkin, dated March 9, the author describes the difficult position in which Moscow has put Beijing because of Putin's decision to invade Ukraine, a move that united the West and turned Russia into such a pariah that China would find it hard to offer support.

"Because of the war, Russia has such a negative image for a number of countries that the United States can easily push sanctions against China, at least with the Europeans, if it risks circumventing the sanctions on Russia," the letter read. "China depends on exports so much that, coupled with its dependence on commodity prices…this would be almost a fatal blow."

The whistleblower continued: "Not only that: Xi Jinping was at least tentatively considering the capture of Taiwan in the autumn—he needs his own small victory in order to be re-elected for a third term—there is a colossal power struggle among the [party] elite. Now, after the events in Ukraine, this window of opportunity has shut, which gives the United States the opportunity to both blackmail Xi and negotiate with his [political] rivals on favorable terms."

The author concludes that Moscow's actions had inadvertently trapped Beijing, forcing the Chinese leadership to scuttle its own invasion plans.

While Newsweek wasn't able to independently verify the authenticity of the FSB letter, it's worth noting that the information about China's timeline would contradict Taiwan's own intelligence on the subject.

In October 2021, months into Russia's troop buildup along Ukraine's borders, Taipei's chief of intelligence, Chen Ming-tong, told lawmakers that, barring an unexpected contingency, an attack by China wasn't likely in the next three years, until after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen leaves office.

A Chinese amphibious invasion in fall would also go against conventional military thinking, which takes into account unfavorable weather conditions across the Taiwan Strait throughout the summer and at least through September.

The Chinese Communist Party's 20th National Congress, where Xi is expecting to secure a third term, is also scheduled for fall and could begin in October or November.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Newsweek

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon