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Russian intelligence document claims China had planned to invade Taiwan this fall

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2019 (Photo: ANI/Reuters)

The Russian attack on Ukraine seems to have stymied China's plans to invade Taiwan, claims a leaked intelligence document from the Federal Security Service (FSB)–a Russian intelligence agency.

Vladimir Osechkin–head of the Russian human rights group Gulagu Net, released classified documents by the FSB related to the war in Ukraine. Osechkin claimed in one document that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had considered launching an invasion in the fall of this year which would have bolstered his position to get re-elected.

The FSB report says that Xi had been "considering taking over Taiwan in the fall". The reason was that Xi "needs his own little victory to get re-elected for a third term," owing to a "colossal" power struggle within the Communist Party of China. China will hold its 20th Communist Party Congress this fall, possibly around October this year, where Xi wants to make a determined bid for his third term.

Taiwan News says that the intelligence report says that "after the Ukrainian events, this window of opportunity has been closed…" The report adds that the US holds the opportunity to "both blackmail Xi and negotiate with his competitors on favorable terms."

The leaked document claims that China may give Russia an ultimatum to "end the war to stabilize oil prices," as the cost of resources has gone up across the world, and this impacts China.

Osechkin also claims that with the Russian attack on Ukraine, it has become easy for the US to "easily sell sanctions against China, at least to Europeans, if (China) risks bypassing sanctions on Russia." Osechkin quotes the intelligence reports as saying that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has "launched a trap mechanism for China."

The interpretation here is that sanctions on China under the guise of supporting Russia in Ukraine may spell the death-knell of the Chinese economy due to its dependence on exports and disruptions in raw materials prices.

Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev, a European Press Prize winner for investigative journalism, has vouched for Osechkin as a credible source. Grozev said on Twitter that he had shown the letter to two confirmed FSB contacts who felt that they "had no doubt it was written by a colleague." He added that his FSB contacts did not agree with all of the analyst's conclusions, "but that's a different story."

China claims that Taiwan is a part of the mainland and Xi has asserted numerous times publicly that Beijing will take over Taiwan by force. Chinese aggressions in the South China Sea and over Taiwan have resulted in a build up of tensions in the region with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan beefing up their defence through arms purchases.

The US has, however, warned China that it would defend Taiwan if China attacks the island nation.

Analysts say that China may rethink its plans of taking Taiwan by force after witnessing the stalemate of the Russian advance in Ukraine.