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Chinese President Xi Jinping has been “unsettled” by the conflict in Ukraine and events there could affect his ambitions for Taiwan, the director of the CIA said.
Bill Burns, the chief of the US spy agency, told a Financial TImes event in Washington that top Chinese officials had been surprised at the “bitter experience” of the first two months of the war.

And as a result of the fierce Ukrainian resistance and the global economic fallout since the invasion, Beijing may be recalculating its goals for Taiwan.

CIA director Bill Burns said China had been unsettled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AP)

“It strikes us … that Xi Jinping is a little bit unsettled by the reputational damage that can come to China by the association with the brutishness of Russia’s aggression against Ukrainians (and) unsettled certainly by the economic uncertainty that’s been produced by the war,” Burns said on the weekend.

“Clearly the Chinese leadership is trying to look carefully at what lessons they should draw from Ukraine about their own ambitions and Taiwan.”

China views Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territory – even though the Chinese Communist Party has never governed the island.

Xi has vowed to pursue “reunification” with Taiwan by peaceful means.

Burns said China was also alarmed by “the fact that what (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has done is driving Europeans and Americans closer together” and was examining “carefully at what lessons they should draw” for Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during their meeting in Beijing, China, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin have aligned their countries foreign policy against the Western democratic order. (AP)

But the CIA director said the course of the war had not deterred China’s leadership from their ultimate goal of gaining control of Taiwan, although it was “affecting their calculation”.

China and Russia have grown increasingly close under Putin and Xi, aligning their foreign policies in opposition to the Western liberal world order.

The two are also closely linked economically, with China becoming Russia’s largest trading partner and an important export market for its natural gas and oil.

China has abstained in votes at the United Nations condemning Russia’s actions, and, in keeping with standard policy, has strongly opposed economic sanctions against Russia.

At the same time, China shows no signs of undermining those sanctions or rushing in to fill the void left by the departure of Western companies from Russia.

– Reported with Associated Press

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