Taiwan watches China as China and the world watch Ukraine

Protesters against the Russian invasion of Ukraine gather in front of the Representative Office of Russia in Taipei, Taiwan, February 26, 2022.

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)China is closely watching the events in Ukraine to evaluate its own strategy towards Taiwan, the island's foreign minister has warned.

"When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving ... we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan," Joseph Wu said during a press conference Monday.
Some analysts have pointed to parallels between Russia's designs on Ukraine and fears over the future of Taiwan -- a self-governing island democracy that Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force.
    "The danger will be that the Chinese leaders think that the Western reaction to the Russian aggression is weak and not coherent, and not having any impact. The Chinese might take that as a positive lesson," added Wu while discussing additional steps that Taiwan is taking to help Ukraine.
      Asked if he is concerned the crisis in Ukraine makes it more or less likely China will make a similar move, Wu said the world has seen an "expansion of authoritarianism," pointing to the joint declaration issued by China and Russia last month.
      "President Xi Jinping has also spoken about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, including building up militarily around China," Wu said.
      China has repeatedly refused to condemn Russian actions in Ukraine and on Monday the country's Foreign Minister Wang Yi described relations between Beijing and Moscow "rock solid."

        Allied democracies

        Wu's comments Monday echoed remarks he made in an interview with CNN last year in which he characterized Taiwan as a check on China's ambitions.
        "It's about Chinese authoritarianism trying to expand its own influence ... Far beyond its borders, even into the Western hemisphere," Wu said in June 2021. "They want to exercise their authoritarian rule and impose the authoritarian international order."
        On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Western governments that Russia's war will not stop at the borders of his country -- and an attack on freedoms in Ukraine will affect the rest of the world.
        "We are in this zone of freedom. And when the limits of rights and freedoms are being violated and stepped on, then you have to protect us. Because we will come first. You will come second," Zelensky told ABC News.
        Zelensky called on NATO and the West to provide greater support to Ukraine, which has received a surge in military aid in recent weeks, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.
        It's the kind of support the US has been supplying to Taiwan for decades under the Taiwan Relations Act, which assures Washington will help arm the island in the face of possible military aggression but does not commit it to actually defending the island, like it would with its treaty allies in NATO or Japan or Australia.
        But Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, on Monday noted that democracies around the world have come together in support of Ukraine. "I'm sure that will be a factor for the Chinese to take into their calculus," Wu added.
        China has made clear its supports Moscow's call to curtail NATO expansion, with analysts noting it sees parallels with the organization's European footprint and the increasingly joined up approach of US allies in Asia -- with Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, on Monday denouncing Washington's strategy of establishing "an Indo-Pacific version of NATO" aimed at maintaining "the US-led system of hegemony."
        "(China and Russia) share two primary strategic interests," said Steve Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute at the University of London. "One is to take the American global leadership down a notch or two. The second is to make the world safe for authoritarianism."

        A different dynamic

        Beijing has dismissed comparisons between the situation in Ukraine and its own claims on Taiwan, with Wang reiterating on Monday that "Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, and the Taiwan question is entirely China's internal affair."
        Taiwan, meanwhile, has made sure the world knows it stands with Ukraine. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has said the island could "empathize" with Ukraine's situation given its experience with "military threats and intimidation from China."
        The government in Taipei recently announced it would donate 27 tons of medical supplies to Ukraine, and hundreds of people gathered in Taipei on Sunday to show their support to the government in Kyiv.