Taiwan fears attack from a China emboldened by Russia's aggression

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports on the mounting tensions between Taiwan and China, with officials voicing concern about the growing alliance between Xi Jinping and Russia

When I sat down to interview Taiwan’s foreign minister on Thursday, I expected he would dismiss the suggestion that China would use a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine as a distraction to make a move on Taiwan. It seemed far-fetched or just outright terrifying to think that the world could be fighting wars in Europe and Asia simultaneously, as we were in World War One. China acts on its own terms, on its own timetable so it seemed to me unlikely it would act in sync with Russia. But Beijing is watching Ukraine very closely, monitoring Moscow’s tactics, and most importantly what reaction they trigger from the United States.

Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu told me it is for that reason that Taiwan is ready for a military attack ‘’at any moment". He believes President Xi Jinping won’t want anything to distract from the Winter Olympics, but after the Games are over, it is anyone’s guess when he will strike. Last year the Chinese air force conducted almost 1,000 attacks (coming out of a defensive position) into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. How else could that be interpreted other than a threat, a show of intent?

Joseph Wu: Taiwan needs to be prepared for China to attack 'at any moment'

It is certainly not, according to Joseph Wu, the actions of a country that wants peaceful negotiation. We spoke about the meeting between presidents Xi and Putin in Beijing on the opening day of the Olympic Games. The accord they released included Russia’s support for China’s position on the reunification of Taiwan. Foreign minister Wu described Taiwan as being on the frontline in a global battle against authoritarianism. He said China and Russia are seeking to expand their influence all over the world, and democracies must fiercely defend their way of life.

Taiwan is watching Russia and China 'closely', Wu says

The UK and other allied nations have conducted freedom of navigation operations in the seas around Taiwan and that has been welcomed as a show of solidarity and strength. Mr Wu admitted that alone, Taiwan is ‘’too weak’’ to deal with Chinese authoritarianism, which is why he is calling on democratic nations around the world to unite and stand stronger together. The conversation was sobering and left the impression that if President Xi Jinping wants to realise his goal of reunification, there will be conflict in this part of the world sooner rather than later. Taiwan has received no response to its offers of dialogue.

“We are not asking for war” the foreign minister told me, before adding “but we won’t bow to China.”