2024: The political game changer, the hard break and the real turning point?

2024: The political game changer, the hard break and the real turning point?

It looks like 2024 will go down in history as a possible historic decision year. Both the Global Times and China expert Janka Oertel point to the fundamental world-historical and geopolitical significance of the outcome of the presidential elections in the USA and Taiwan. Likewise, Putin will try to delay the war, lead it and hold it out until 2024, in the hope that Trump’s re-election could be the political game changer. This is also expressed in a new book „The End of the China Illusion“ by the China expert Janka Oertel from the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). CDU foreign politician Roettgen is also part of the latter and there are donations from George Soros (although his successor son Alexander has just announced the Open Society Foundation will now be withdrawing from Europe – while Orban seems to be trumpeting it and expanding his rival Matthias Corvenius College as a far-right and anti-liberal global elite center and think tank). The ECFR also recently published a study on the transatlantic relationship published, in which Europe and its political elite are referred to as „vassals“ of the USA. So now a book about China. In the interview, Oertel says that the turning point7Zeitenwende has so far been more rhetorical than real, a change in mentality would have to take place and the costs incurred for a real change of course had to be clearly envisaged. The transition in transport and energy is also still dependent on China. So I think it’s overdue to ask. Are both even possible without China? Do you have to decide whether you will continue to maintain such economic dependencies with China or whether you will do without the energy transition and transport transition as the price of derisking and decoupling? And to what extent are these two actually useful and also feasible? Maybe you can’t have both and maybe that’s a (China) illusion. It’s interesting that she thinks the year 2024 is very crucial because of the presidential elections in the USA and Taiwan. She thinks war is quite possible if China sees a window of opportunity, but she also sees the danger if US politicians gamble too much with Taiwan’s independence.

She sees China on Russia’s side in the Ukraine conflict, but also asks that in the event of a post-war order, the West must be clear about how it is treating China when it comes to reconstruction, less so with bridges, but with critical infrastructure, specifically again the 5G -question.

“China presents us with epochal challenges”

Status: 09/03/2023, 10:33 a.m

In an interview, the China expert Janka Oertel warns against an invasion of Taiwan – and against turning a blind eye to China’s striving for power in Germany. What does China want – and what does that mean for us in the West? In her recently published book „The End of the China Illusion“, the China expert Janka Oertel looks at the ambitions of the People’s Republic, which is becoming increasingly aggressive under state and party leader Xi Jinping. In an interview, the director of the Asia program of the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations calls for a new approach to the country – and that we Germans must be willing to bear the costs that a change in our relations with China entails.

 Ms. Oertel, your book is entitled “End of the China Illusion”. What illusions do the Germans have about China?

Many still think: „It won’t get that bad, especially not for us.“ But now we’re slowly realizing that China’s policies do have consequences for us. Because the Chinese leadership is striving for economic dominance in areas that are particularly important for Germany, such as e-mobility, with fair and not so fair means. And because it calls into question stability in regions that are crucial for us, such as in the Taiwan Strait, but also more indirectly in Ukraine.

 What development should we be most worried about in Germany?

 We will not be able to eliminate all risks emanating from China. For some, it’s easier, like our dependency on raw materials for medicines. Other dependencies, such as rare earths, which we need for our green transformation, cannot be broken so easily. As a society, we must therefore always ask ourselves how we reassess the risks. Not following a pure market logic, but as conscious decisions. In view of the speed of the expansion of renewable energies and the fight against climate change, how do we deal with imports of Chinese solar panels, how with the question if forced labor is used here?

The global economic cost of an escalation in the Taiwan Strait would be enormous

One of the greatest risks for the global economy and also for Germany would be an escalation in the Taiwan Strait.

 The global economic costs would be enormous. We have to think about worst-case scenarios – that is, a Chinese invasion or a blockade of Taiwan – in order to prevent and be prepared for them. Which goods would no longer be available in this country in the event of a military escalation and how quickly? How are energy prices developing? What is happening to semiconductor supply chains? It’s good when microchip factories are built here, but supply chains remain global. If the situation were to escalate in the near future, that wouldn’t help us much either.

Do you think China could attack Taiwan any time soon?

It would be dubious to give a specific date. However, I believe that 2024 will be a very complex year. At the beginning of January there will be presidential elections in Taiwan, later in the year in the USA – the outcome is open. Perhaps the Chinese leadership will decide: The situation is too uncertain for us, the risk of failure is high. However, a window of opportunity may suddenly appear. You write in your book: „The Chinese leadership is preparing for a war.“ But that doesn’t mean she wants to go to war – quite the opposite. But we see preparations for a military escalation. China continues to upgrade and strive for comprehensive diversification of energy and food supplies. The population is sworn to more difficult times.

“Both China and climate change present us with epochal challenges”

 So what to do?

The next five years are a high-risk period. De-escalation is now crucial – from both sides. It is not in our interest that some politicians in the West are demanding that Taiwan declare itself independent. Instead, we need more sensitivity to what Taiwanese themselves want.

You describe China as „the second major issue next to climate change that we in Germany and Europe will have to face in this decade“. What about Russia?

Both China and climate change present us with epochal challenges. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment: Russia can put massive pressure on us in Europe, but Vladimir Putin is currently only able to bring about a structural international shift thanks to the support of China.

How important is China to Russia?

After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, China has taken a step back – Beijing has adhered to sanctions, Xi Jinping has not made a show of flying to Moscow to meet Putin, and China has not reinforced Russian narratives that NATO is allegedly to blame for the escalation . If China had now behaved in the same way, Russia would be much more isolated internationally and the Russian regime would be far less socially acceptable. Instead, we now see that trade is flourishing, that diplomatic solidarity is being deliberately sought and that China is supplying cars, trucks and protective vests to Russia on a large scale.

„China as a mediator in the Ukraine war is a great illusion“

However, many still believe that China could play a mediating role in the conflict.

That’s a big illusion. The Chinese leadership is currently not interested in a negotiated solution that would mean massive losses for Putin’s Russia. However, if negotiations do take place one day, China will stand by and offer to help rebuild Ukraine. That’s why we should already be thinking about what exactly such a role could look like. This is perhaps less relevant for roads or bridges than for the question of digital infrastructure.


Hasn’t China’s support for the Russian attack on Ukraine and the threatening gestures towards Taiwan fundamentally changed our view of the country?

Just talking about China differently is not enough. We must also change our behavior. But our 5G networks are still being expanded with Chinese technology, and we are still dependent on China for raw materials for medicines. At the last government consultations, the Chinese prime minister didn’t even have to face journalists‘ questions at a press conference – in Germany. And that for the first time. Our rhetoric has changed, but a real change in mentality has not yet taken place.

Why is that?

Change is always uncomfortable, difficult and expensive. Some people make a lot of money doing business in China and have no interest in changing that. The little sister of the turning point are the forces of perseverance. And they are still very high. A policy that positions us better in the long term is not easy to sell politically. But we don’t just have to be willing to bear the costs of change. But also consider what it costs us not to act


Also interesting is an article by the CCP organ Global Times, which prepares for a possible re-election of Trump, but also thinks that the USA will tend to have a more aggressive China policy in the future. Motto: The king is dead, long live the king. It is interesting that Trump supposedly wants to impose a 10% tariff on all imports. Also for the EU and after Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which also puts a strain on transatlantic relations? Reference is also made to a programmatic article in Foreign Affairs, in which a hard break with China (“hard break”) is discussed, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, who advocates a sharper China course. Allies of the USA as well as their opponents are currently preparing for the election date:

“What if what doesn’t ‘kill’ Trump makes him stronger?

By Global Times Published: Sep 04, 2023 01:15 AM

Donald Trump Photo:VCG

Donald Trump Photo:VCG

US President Joe Biden will embark on a visit to India and Vietnam this week. It can be expected that strengthening the relationship between the US and Asian countries, with China as the target, is an important purpose of this visit. 

However, whether the US‘ strategic approach toward China will go far and whether decoupling is soft or hard ultimately depend on US domestic politics. 

As the election year approaches, the spotlight on this political drama in the US has turned to Donald Trump. The polarization of American politics has intensified, and the right-wing and anti-China factions continue to increase public opinion pressure. 

Next year is not only an election year but also a year of judgment for a former president competing for the presidency. 

The trial date for Trump’s alleged attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election is scheduled for March 4, 2024. Super Tuesday will take place on March 5, when Republican voters in more than a dozen states will vote to elect the party’s presidential candidate.

The trial will affect Trump’s prospects for his reelection campaign. However, after recent prosecutions against Trump, his support grew in numbers and strength, making his foundation among Republican primary voters more solid.

Although Trump has obvious political advantages within the Republican Party, he also confronts significant judicial hurdles. The trial of Trump and 18 other defendants in Georgia will be broadcast live on the internet.

American politicians from both parties are using and even exacerbating the polarization of voters to expand their political influence. Therefore, the debate over US foreign policy, including the China policy, has become more intense in this fierce confrontation. 

On July 25, the Foreign Affairs magazine published a lengthy commentary titled „The Case for a Hard Break with China,“ which had a very strong tone. „Hard break“ refers to comprehensive decoupling. 

Just recently, Trump stated that if he were to be elected, he would impose a universal 10 percent baseline tariff for imports into the US. Some Republican presidential candidates have spoken up, demanding the revocation of China’s permanent normal trade relations status.

On August 31, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch supporter of Trump, asserted in a public event that the rise of BRICS nations was „devastating“ for the US, making the US dollar get weaker and Americans go broke.

Clearly, there is a possibility that the US could slide toward becoming a more closed and right-wing nation. 

The headline of The Wall Street Journal’s report on August 28 is „The World Is Contemplating a Second Trump Administration.“ The report stated that although the US presidential election is more than a year away, allies and adversaries around the world have already begun to contemplate – and even plan for – the return of Trump to the White House.

The polarization of the US‘ politics will inevitably exacerbate the country’s extreme China policy. Even if Trump is not reelected, his Republican successor is unlikely to change this dynamic and will likely continue down the right-wing path that Trump has set, or else risk losing the support of the grassroots voters.

Three years ago, Trump likened himself to a king in a tweet and the US philosopher and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, warning, „When you strike at the king, you must kill him.“

Most people interpret this statement as if you don’t succeed in killing the king, you will eventually face retribution from the king.

If Trump’s competitors cannot defeat him decisively, they must consider what his resurgence would mean. This applies equally to leaders worldwide: American domestic politics will determine how Washington’s foreign policy changes.


In the upcoming presidential elections in Taiwan, the new game changer is the independent candidate and billionaire Terry Gou, who previously supported the national party KMT, which is dividing and weakening the pro-Chinese KMT camp, which does not exactly trigger euphoria in Beijing. Gou leads the KMT campaign that Taiwan should not provoke China, That he stands for peace and the DDP for war to the extreme, which is also criticized in the DDP-affiliated Taipei Times in comparison with the Song dynasty, the defeat of the KMT against the CP China as well as Switzerland and Ukraine as pacifist appeasement:

Mon, Sep 04, 2023 page8

Some questions for candidate Gou

  • By Teng Hon-yuan 鄧鴻源

On Aug. 23, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) visited Mount Taiwu (太武山) on Kinmen and chanced upon a group of children. He asked them a political question, namely whether they wanted war or peace.

Clearly asked on purpose, Gou’s question is highly inappropriate. Moreover, the question should have been directed at China rather than the residents of this Taiwanese island territory, adjacent to China. After all, it is China that wants to wage a war against Taiwan, not the other way around.

I would also like to ask Gou to imagine a situation: Let us suppose that the Gou family has an evil neighbor who says that the ownership of all the Gou family mansions and possessions belongs to him, while demanding that the Gou family live in harmony with him, and that they should be supervised by him. If the Gou family does not comply, the neighbor would fight against the Gous and beat them up. Will Gou agree with the neighbor’s proposal? Will he shout out, “I love peace, not war!”?

Gou used to say that enhancing Taiwan’s national defense meant provoking China. In that case, would Gou be willing to dismantle the security equipment of his mansions all over the world? Would he lay off all his security staff?

It is worth mentioning that Gou’s father served as a police officer. If, according to Gou’s thinking, peace could only be achieved through the total removal of self-defense, then society would not need any police.

History provides us with a lesson: All the emperors, officials and commoners of the Song Dynasty had hoped for peace, but how did the Song Dynasty end up? How humiliating it must have been for the Northern Song Dynasty to lose its imperial capital in the Jingkang Incident (靖康之恥). During the Naval Battle of Mount Ya (崖山海戰), hundreds of thousands of Southern Song soldiers, officials and civilians committed suicide by jumping into the sea. More recently, those Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) soldiers who surrendered to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War ended up in misery. What does Gou have to say about this?

Gou only dares to criticize President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡-英文), but not Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平-). When he meets with Xi, he bows and kowtows to him, showing his full-fledged respect. How could this kind of person ever become the president of Taiwan?

Gou should know that the peace-loving Swiss still conduct mandatory military service for all able-bodied male citizens. Although Switzerland is surrounded by friendly democratic countries, no one dares to bully the Swiss. Unlike Switzerland, Taiwan has an evil neighbor next door, just as Ukraine does with Russia. In this sense, Taiwan must enhance its national defense.

For any sovereign and independent country, strengthening one’s national defense is not the same as provoking others. Only Gou and the politicians of the two opposition parties, the KMT and the Taiwan People’s Party, conflate the two. Were any of them to become president-elect of Taiwan, would there be any future for Taiwan?

Gou has almost everything he needs to live a comfortable life. However, what he lacks most is the ability to empathize with others. The same goes for the other two opposition parties. They never empathize and put themselves in somebody else’s shoes.

Teng Hon-yuan is a university professor.

Translated by Emma Liu


In a further article, the DDP explains the quarrels in the national party KMT with its Leninist party structure, in which the chairman Eric Chu is the actual kingmaker. This structural disagreement and lack of solidarity within the pan-blue camp was nothing new and is also the Achilles‘ heel of the KMT. He enthroned Hou and that is why Terry Gou is now running as his own candidate. The KMT also suffers from aging and a lack of membership recruitment among young people. Is that true? In any case, she is said to be no longer close to the people. Furthermore, it was essentially split into 3 factions. The pro-China camp, the deep blue camp and the local camp. Hence the constant quarrels in the pan-blue camp, the most obvious expression of which is Terry Gou’s candidacy. Likewise, the KMT lacks vision and is a competition to see who is even more Chinese, which the DDP does not have, as they most credibly represent a Taiwanese identity with pretty much no competition. A democratization of the Leninist party structures of the KMT is suggested. But would the KMT then still be the KMT?

Fri, Sep 01, 2023 page8

EDITORIAL: The KMT’s Achilles’ heel

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) announcement on Monday has been a bombshell in the political sphere, leaving many to believe that “the boy who cried wolf” has now committed to seeing his campaign through to the end. With another entrant in the race, the jockeying between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hou You-yi (侯友宜), independent presidential candidate Terry Gou (郭台銘) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) show no signs of cooling, while the call for “unity” among an “anti-green coalition” seems ever more out of reach.

It is hard to imagine that only a year ago, Gou clandestinely met with Hou before the local elections last November, the two reportedly promising each other that neither would enter the race while the other ran, publicly displaying cordiality and support.

Unfortunately, the comraderie began showing cracks when last November’s local elections saw the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffer its biggest Waterloo in history. Galvanized by its own sweeping victory, the KMT swore to put an end to DPP governance, and its presidential candidate nomination soon became the most sought-after golden ticket in the party. Rivalry between Gou and Hou spiraled into rift and then enmity, sending the KMT into disarray.

It seems that the KMT has always struggled with unity and solidarity, so much so that the phrases were heard at every campaign event like a broken record, which begs the question: why is the KMT struggling with unity more than any other party?

The first reason stems from party regulations. As a Leninist-style party, the chairman is in command, and in this case, it is KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) who has the power to set rules for the primaries as he sees fit. This has been the reason why party members and supporters accused Chu of adopting “black box” tactics when he withheld information about the screening method up until the moment of candidate announcement. As a result, his overwhelming role in the nomination has singlehandedly caused Gou and Hou’s fallout and the break up of the pan-blue base.

If the KMT wishes to rectify the overconcentration of power in the hands of its chairman, it could introduce further democratization and power to its policymaking units like the Central Standing Committee and the Central Executive Committee. Old party members and KMT elites continuing to occupy the higher positions while few young people wish to join the party has resulted in the party’s higher echelons being out of touch with the people.

The second is that the KMT lacks vision. Although abstract, vision is the key that drives people’s passion and their motive to get up and vote. For the DPP, its party vision has been simple: to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and counter Chinese aggression.

For the KMT, it is a bit more complicated. To say that the KMT is a party made up of 50 shades of blue is no exaggeration. Each faction in the party is working for a different goal. For example, the pro-China faction wants unification with China; the deep-blue faction wishes to see the DPP’s collapse and a return to the good old days; the KMT’s local factions only wish to ensure they get more local support than the DPP.

This disarray has always been the KMT’s biggest hurdle. Its lack of vision has given the TPP, or independent candidates, such as Gou, a chance to rise. Its appeal to the public to “vote the DPP out of office” has turned its presidential candidate into a placeholder: Hou can be substituted by Gou or Ko, as long as the candidate stands the most chance of defeating DPP presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德).

As past elections have proven, solidarity has never been the KMT’s strongest suit; the presidential campaign this year might yet prove that weakness to be the reason for its downfall.


A re-election of the DDP and Trumps in combination could result in a realignment of the situation for both Xi and Putin vis-à-vis the Biden government, which is more anti-Putin than anti-China, and with the latter pursuing a more multilateral and softer anti-China course with soft decoupling/derisking , 2024 could definitely be a game changer both in Ukraine/Europe and in Taiwan/Asia, as the China expert Janka Oertel of the ECFR correctly describes in her book „The End of the China Illusion“. The extent to which Germany and the West are really prepared for such a Zeitenwende/turning point could then be shown dramatically.

As a reading recommendation on how Trumpists imagine a hard break with China, the following GR article:

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