Like 1776, 1789, 1914, or 1989, 2024 will be an epochal year for the world. It will be for the U.S. as well in its domestic politics, its ongoing economic and social difficulties, and in its foreign policy—most acutely in the Sino-American relationship. The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) dictator Xi Jinping gave an indication of the dangerous road ahead in his New Year’s address. In 2024, the Sino-American relationship will face many challenges driven by Xi’s hyper-aggression, but three critical issues are particularly salient for Americans at the start of what will be a momentous year: the Taiwanese elections on January 13th, President Biden’s likely withdrawal from the 2024 race, and Xi’s effort to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.
On Taiwan, Xi stated that unification of the PRC and Taiwan would occur in his New Year’s address, describing it as a "historical inevitability.” This has been a major and alarming theme of his remarks, which have increased in frequency. Xi warned President Biden in November at their meeting in San Francisco that "China will realize unification, and this is unstoppable.” On December 26th in Beijing at a symposium in the Great Hall of the People honoring the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth Xi stated his intent to conquer Taiwan by stating that "no one will split Taiwan from China.”
That is another immediate warning of aggression against Taiwan, which Americans should understand could come in 2024. Moreover, it is a transparent signal to influence the Taiwanese presidential and legislative elections on January 13th. Xi has favored candidates, and that is not the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Lai Ching-te, known as William Lai. But the PRC also seeks to advance its political warfare campaign against Taiwan. This includes sowing fear and doubt in Taiwan about whether other states will stand with it when the PRC invades. The political warfare campaign is unceasing and so will continue long after the Taiwanese election results are known.
The correct response to this bullying is historical fact, the PRC has never in its history had control over Taiwan. U.S. officials should repeat this fact, time-and-again. Thus, there is no "unification.” Period. There will be only an invasion of Taiwan when Xi chooses to attack. Only the Qing dynasty had a form of control over Taiwan, and the Qing were Manchu, not Chinese. An artful Taiwanese response would be that they are perfectly willing to consider unification with Manchuria once Manchuria is liberated from the PRC’s control.
Regarding President Biden, his cratering poll numbers and the sustained unpopularity of his administration’s policies, as well as his declining health and mental capacity makes it likely that he will not stand for reelection. This matters in the Sino-American relationship because Biden is favored by Xi. Biden will wait to announce this. But might come this summer in order to minimize the time he is a lame duck but to provide his replacement with sufficient time to campaign. For Xi, this means that his influence over Biden is affected by the timing of Biden’s decision.
Before Biden announces his withdrawal from the 2024 race, Biden will not want the truth about his corruption to be revealed. Xi is aware, as is every other leader with whom the "Biden crime family” transacted, of the scope and scale of this. That gives Xi leverage over Biden, which is immensely useful in influencing U.S. policy.
After Biden announces that he will not seek reelection, Xi’s knowledge becomes perishable. Xi’s principal concern is not whether Biden will be prosecuted once he leaves office, it is to maximize influence over the U.S.’s policies towards the PRC. In no circumstance will Biden want the truth to be revealed, but once he announces that he will step aside, many countries will leak what they know and facilitate the U.S. House of Representatives’ investigations. So, the relative value of Xi’s knowledge declines. For Xi, 2024 becomes the critical year to coerce Taiwan and other countries like the Philippines because a Trump victory will check Xi’s efforts. Even more importantly, a second Trump administration will cut the head off the snake by working to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In sum, Trump is an existential threat to Xi.
Finally, much depends upon the Democratic nominee in 2024. If, as expected, Gavin Newsom or Michelle Obama is the nominee, that would be welcomed by Xi. Either Newsom or Obama would continue—in large measure—Biden’s policies and keep the disastrous policy of engagement with the PRC. This will ensure the U.S. never works to defeat the PRC. Instead, U.S. investment, trade, and knowledge and technology transfer continue to flow to the PRC, and Xi and the CCP will stay in power.
In contrast, a Trump victory is Xi’s nightmare. Accordingly, Xi will do all he can to interfere in the U.S. 2024 presidential election to prevent Trump’s return to the presidency. The election in Taiwan may provide some clues as to how the PRC is planning to influence the U.S. election. What is certain is that the forms of interference will be myriad. They include political warfare strategies employed on TikTok, other apps, and social and legacy media to hurt the Trump campaign and favor the Democrat. Other tools at Xi’s disposal might include flooding states with fake ballots, aiding ballot harvesting, and other tricks known to those who practice the dark art of election interference. The cadre of likely People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Ministry of State Security (MSS), and other PRC agents, that have infiltrated the U.S. southern border are certain to play a nefarious role. Of course, this is only one of the ways that this Fifth Column of PRC agents threatens U.S. national security.
Xi has a window of opportunity in 2024 that he will not have again. Americans should expect that Xi will be especially active this year to achieve his global objectives in the face of a weak U.S. president. There is great danger ahead. 2024 is going to be epochal year.
Bradley A. Thayer is a Contributing Columnist for Warroom and is @bradleythayer on Gettr and Truth, and @bradthayer at X.