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20 years after 9/11

Will Xi move on Taiwan? History warns he might: Niall Ferguson

After Afghanistan, Chinese leader may conclude US won't intervene, scholar says

A soldier from the Chinese People's Liberation Army jumps through a ring of fire during a military exercise in Shihezi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China may interpret the Biden administration's abandonment of Afghanistan as a "signal that they probably won't fight over anything," historian Niall Ferguson warns.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the American public's quickly fading support for military endeavors in the greater Middle East, could send the wrong message to Beijing and push it to take action in Taiwan, historian Niall Ferguson told Nikkei in an interview.

Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said big wars usually happen when the aggressor "thinks that time is not on its side and that it's better to act sooner rather than wait." The Biden administration's abandonment of Afghanistan could be interpreted as an unwillingness on the part of the U.S. to engage in overseas wars and could change Chinese President Xi Jinping's risk calculations, Ferguson said.

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