china unsettled by ukraine but dont underestimate xis taiwan resolve says cia head - China unsettled by Ukraine, but don't underestimate Xi's Taiwan resolve, says CIA head

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – China appears to have been unsettled by the difficulties Russia has faced since its invasion of Ukraine, but Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s determination with regard to Taiwan should not be underestimated, the CIA’s director said on Tuesday (March 8).

William Burns, appearing at the annual House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, was asked whether he thought there might be room for a more “productive” US conversation with China over Taiwan, given the economic damage Russia had suffered after invading Ukraine.

He said he did not.

“I would just say analytically, I would not underestimate President Xi and the Chinese leadership’s determination with regard to Taiwan,” he said.

“I do think… that they have been surprised and unsettled to some extent by what they’ve seen in Ukraine over the last 12 days, everything from the strength of the Western reaction to the way in which Ukrainians have fiercely resisted,” he added.

Burns said he believed there had been “an impact on the Chinese calculus with regard to Taiwan and which we obviously are going to continue to pay careful attention to,” but did not elaborate.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused particular alarm in self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as its own and has vowed to reclaim, by force if necessary.

The island, which Washington is obliged by law to provide with the means to defend itself, has stepped up its alert level, wary of China taking advantage of a distracted West to move against it.

Burns said he believed China did not anticipate the difficulties the Russians were going to run into and was also unsettled by the “reputational damage” that could come from Beijing’s close association with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the economic consequences of the Ukraine invasion.