Today, Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Communist Chinese Ministry of National Defense stated, ‘Those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war.” This message was delivered in response to the Biden Administration inviting a representative of Taiwan to the Inauguration.

This is just the latest in a decades-long series of threats China has made against Taiwan.

China has considered the island of Taiwan to be a part of its territory since the Communists overthrew the Nationalist Government of China in 1949. That National Government then evacuated to Taiwan. President Chiang established the new Kuomintang government in Taiwan while claiming he was still the president of all of China. Meanwhile, Mao Ze Dung, leading the Communists, declared that Taiwan belonged to the People’s Republic of China. And since that time, a kind of diplomatic stalemate has existed. Thus, there are two governments in China, neither of which acknowledges the legitimacy or rule of the other.

Taiwan is not a member of the UN and the United States has not recognized it as a country. To do so would be to recognize the Communist government in Beijing as legitimately in place on the mainland.

It’s a diplomatic mess. Any move by the United States towards normalizing relations with Taiwan as a free and independent nation is met by the Communists with the threat of war and invasion. The question is, are these threats credible? Or are they bluff and bluster? I come down on the side of bluff and bluster. Consider the following:

China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory, yet it still respects its airspace and territorial waters that extend 12 miles from the island. The Communists fly aircraft close to Taiwan, but not inside the 12 miles limit where Taiwan would shoot them down. If China was capable of invading Taiwan, one would think the Communist Chinese would assert their territorial ownership of the island and send ships and planes into its waters and airspace with justifiable impunity.

If a ship or plane were fired upon, the Chinese could call the incident an “insurrection” and land forces on the island to kill or capture the insurrectionists. The fact that the Communists do not act in this manner displays not only the weakness of their territorial claims but also a weakness in their actual military power.

The clues are right there in front of you if you look close enough. China will make quite a show of its latest ship, plane, or tank, but its military power is probably more a matter of public perception than hard reality. Its defense budget as stated by the Communist Chinese is about $12 billion, which is roughly five percent of what the United States spends.