The fall of Afghanistan and the chaotic withdrawal of the United States have been a godsend of propaganda for autocrats around the world. Nowhere has the perception of US weakness been more clearly announced than in China, where state media predict US decline and warn US allies and partners that they too will be abandoned. Communist Party of China spokesperson Global Times called Afghanistan a “harbinger” for Taiwan’s fate.
While the images of Kabul have damaged the United States’ global position in the short term, Washington can still ensure that its interests are protected in the long term. China’s desire for forced unification with Taiwan is no secret. Beijing has increased military, economic and political pressure on Taipei over the past year and shows no signs of easing. After Afghanistan, deterring China from a catastrophic invasion of Taiwan must be the primary national security objective of the Biden administration.