China Taiwan relations

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This is a podcast episode titled, China Taiwan relations. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this podcast Janes analyst F Xavier Casals joins Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett for a deep dive into China Taiwan relations.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>Xavier explores how by using the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information (PMESII) framework we can gather structured analysis and more complete picture of China’s future intent. &nbsp;</p>

Speaker 1: Welcome to The World of Intelligence, a podcast for you to discover the latest analysis of global military and security trends within the open source defense intelligence community. Now, onto the episode with your host, Harry Kemsley.

Harry Kemsley: Hello and welcome to this edition of Janes World of Intelligence with Harry Kemsley, your host, and as usual, my co- host, Sean Corbett. Hello, Sean.

Sean Corbett: Hello, Harry.

Harry Kemsley: Sean, straight to the first question, no pause. What do you consider to be the highest intelligence priority for the US currently?

Sean Corbett: So, that's one of the easiest questions you've asked me actually. You'll have heard me many times talk about the 4 + 1, which is China, Russia, DPRK, Iran, plus the Vantage extremes organization, but firmly at the top right now, certainly in terms of the long- term, looking at strategy, is China, and the concerns of that, which is a podcast in itself.

Harry Kemsley: Yes, it is. Well, I'm glad to say I brought with me a guest from Janes, Xavier. Hello, Xavier.

Xavier: Hello, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Harry Kemsley: Good, and just for the audience, can you say a bit about your role at Janes?

Xavier: Yes, I'm a Lead Analyst and Northeast Asia National Desk at Country Intelligence at Janes, and I'm the primary for China.

Harry Kemsley: Very good. All right, so what I'd like to do for us first, for the audience that probably knows something about what's happening in China, and particularly around Taiwan, just give us a quick review summary of the Chinese situation, Taiwan, Taiwanese situation, and we'll go from there.

Xavier: So what we have, going to the basics, is to politics, to governments on both sides of the street. We have the People's Republic of China in mainland China and we have the Republic of China, we usually refer to as Taiwan, in the island of Taiwan and some of the other islands around this. What we have is Beijing saying, " We want to reunify Taiwan with the rest or the mainland with the rest of China." While most political forces in Taiwan, and clearly those in the government say, " Well, we are autonomous, we are defacto an independent politic, and we'd like to stay that way." Today, 13th of February, is exactly one month until the Taiwanese elections, where the governing party, the DPP, the Democratic Progressive Party won a third time. That was the first time this happened in modern Taiwanese democracy, but they lost parliament to the opposition. So the situation we have now is the Communist Party of China from Beijing keeps saying reunification is inevitable, that's the word they use, and increased pressure on the Taiwanese government, while in Taiwan we seem to be at a bit of an impasse in political terms. So there's a bit of uncertainty on what might happen in the coming 12 to 24 months.

Harry Kemsley: Okay. Well, you know where I'm going to go next, in terms of what might happen in the next 12 to 24 months. Sean, why do you consider this to have been the highest of high priorities for the US? What is it that makes this such a high priority for the intelligence community?

Sean Corbett: Because if you look strategically, China is undoubtedly the biggest threat to the US' hegemony. And whether that's economically, whether that's politically, whether that is militarily, they are the big player on the block. If you look at the compounds of the economies as well, everyone's worried about Russia, with absolutely justifiable cause, that's the here and the now. But in terms of strategic players for the future, then China is definitely the biggest threat. And that's not just a military threat, that's all the leverages, whether it's economic, whether it's influence and everything else.

Harry Kemsley: Sure. Well, given that it is the highest priority of one of the foremost intelligence communities of the world, just before I go back to Xavier, to his answer to this question, what on earth does the open source environment think it can provide to the likes of the five eyes on the US community, that they can't do for themselves?

Sean Corbett: You're on form today, in terms of asking me questions, aren't you? And that's a difficult one, because the intelligence community are very heavily focused on China. They're very good at China as well, up to a point. So that said, as I always say to you, open source is one element of all source analysis, and it does bring in something else to the party. And we've talked about this not for a while actually, but the freedom to think out of the box, an alternative perspective. And I was just talking to a couple of the analysts earlier that, and I know Xavier is one of them, that is thinking outside the box, which is not as structured as, for very good reasons, the intelligence community needs to. Now of course, you've got to have all the checks and balances, the trade craft, the assurance and the rest of it. But you can think slightly differently. And we've got different cultural backgrounds, different historical backgrounds, different academic backgrounds within the OSINT community that can bring that alternative perspective. And back to one thing I'm always going to say to you is, the ability to come up with an analysis that you can then share with people is also available.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, for sure. Well, we've talked about the utility of open source intelligence a number of times in our podcasts over the years of doing it now. Shareability has definitely come up as one of those topics. The ability to triangulate and see things from a different perspective, as Sean just said, has come up, provide context. Although I suspect the context is reasonably clear to the analysts in the US and other classifying communities, because looking at it so much. But one of the areas that I still believe nobody has really cracked is the ability to see forward, to have some foresight. And I know you've be doing a great of work on indicators that might give us some clues about what is more likely, and so on. And you say about how, A, you are starting to look at those indicators, how you built them, but also how you're doing that from an open source perspective.

Xavier: Yes, that's a great question. So the process to build the indicators started last year, in 2023. Our starting point was then US House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. I think that would be the moment when interest in China, and more specifically in China, Taiwan peaked, and there were many voices warning about potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, with consequences that would be basically terrible for anyone involved, anyone, for that matter. And there was a big contrast between these warnings, or these concerns in the short term, and what we were seeing. And we thought what we needed was a structured approach that allowed us to track everything that China was doing, or everything that was happening across the strait. And that's how the indicators and the PMESII indicators started. We thought that the focus on the military events meant that we had a tunnel vision on military developments, and that's what led to these conclusions in the short term. And that the way to fix that, or to mitigate, let's say, that risk, was precisely taking a step back, building indicators across the PMESII, that's political, military, economic, social.

Harry Kemsley: The PMESII acronym?

Xavier: Yeah.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah.

Xavier: Information infrastructure domains, and take authoritatively what China was doing, what Taiwan was doing as well, across the strait. Because we thought that we were reaching the wrong conclusions because we were starting from the wrong assumptions.

Harry Kemsley: Right, right. So you look at the PMESII framework; political, military, economic, et cetera, and you're looking for specific indicators within each of them, and not starting with a military perspective first. Is that what you're-

Xavier: Yeah, exactly.

Harry Kemsley: So from an open source perspective, Sean, or from an all source perspective, PMESII is a well understood and recognized way of breaking down and understanding a country. What does it represent, politically, military, et cetera? Presumably, Sean, that sort of approach correlates directly with what an agency somewhere would be doing for an analysis of a situation in the country?

Sean Corbett: Yes, it does, with the nuance that the agencies all have their specific customers, so they will tailor their result to that. So for example, the CIA is actually a direct link to the President of the United States, and the command group DIA is more defense related and all the rest of it. So it will be nuanced, but yeah, that, as a format, is absolutely right. But just to double down on what Xavier said, is that you have to look at all levers of national power if you want to discuss the intent as well as the capability, which is the threat, obviously.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We've talked about previously the geo- economic approach of a country like China, and how it's using its economic power in a way to forward its national interest. But here, we're talking about how we look through the prism, that lenses of PMESII, to understand what might happen. So what have you seen in that analysis, those indicators, through the PMESII framework?

Xavier: So we've seen many things, and some of them might appear to be contradictory at the beginning. We've seen developments, I will give examples, but we've seen developments that would lead to an increasing tensions, or to more pressure put on Taiwan, especially in the military, in the main. We talk about military drills, we talk about violations of Taiwan's air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, that is clearly what might lead to an increase in tensions. But when we looked at all the domains, for example, what's happening in the social domain, in terms of exchanges between business organizations in mainland China and business organizations in Taiwan, cultural organizations on both sides of the street, and even political statements by the leadership, what we found is that there were many mitigating factors that helped us provide a more complete picture, and led us to believe that the most likely outcome or intention, let's say, for China in the coming 12 months has nothing to do with military or large scale military action. That is very unlikely.

Harry Kemsley: Okay, well, that's fascinating, and I'm definitely come back to you, in terms of how you've come to those conclusions, because that's the key of what we're trying to do here. But Sean, the message there, what Xavier's just said, is that all source picture looking across all the different domains, that's what you said earlier, that's what Xavier has just confirmed. What I think I've also heard is there is a danger that the narrative gets very focused on the military might of China and the military potential of China, when you see them doing various drills across the straits, and that then becomes the only indicator we look at, that they're clearly practicing for an invasion, which is what Xavier is saying is, " Well, yes, but look at the alternatives, and you can see that there's actually mitigating a narrative there." How do you feel about, that from your perspective? Because you're a military intelligence analyst. How does that make you feel, that sense of the softer side might reduce the problem?

Sean Corbett: Yeah, so crikey, there's a lot to unpick there, as there always is, but no, within the military, we are very structured, in terms of how we look at stuff. And IMW matrices, as I call them, in terms of, "Right, what are the military indicators?" Is bread and butter to me. But I have to say, in defense of my colleagues, is that we always go, " Okay, why is that happening? So why is there a big military exercise?" Well, in the Russians' case, it's because they do it once a year or twice a year, and need to practice combining all arms. But then you get to, " So why are the hospitals, the field hospitals deployed, and why are the blood banks?" That's one of the key military indicators. But well before that, well before that, you need that understanding of what the political intent is. So it's back to, I say it often, " What's the normal, and what's abnormal?" So in the Chinese case, they are pretty cyclical, in terms of where they train militarily. So you've got to look for the military perspective, what's a permanent change, in terms of their disposition? Vice what is just normal routine activity, and talking about IMW, I automatically think of all these new islands that have been built at extreme expense, great feats of engineering in the middle of the South China Sea, the Subi reefs and all the rest of it. Now, if that's not an indicator warning, I don't know what is, but that's political intent, that's put a huge amount of effort into doing that. It's only one example, because as Xavier said, you've got to include everything. From the economics to... And you mentioned the visit that happened, to Taiwan, but also, and I think we talked to Claire Chu about this earlier, on the BRICS meeting that was had, and why on earth is China inviting some quite dubious countries? Well, it's because they want to influence. Is that from an economic perspective? Because they want that dominance, and their economy is not going brilliantly? Or is that something else, where they need them on board for a political reason, or something else? And then, while I'm on a monologue, then then you start looking at other levers as well, such as, and this is always a big one for me, is the internal security situation. It's an absolute truism that when nations are having internal strife, lash out somewhere else, it diverts attention to a foreign thing. And because people ultimately are nationalistic, and they will support their nation. And one of the things for me that mitigates the Chinese threat is that it is such a diverse population within China that it takes a huge amount of effort from the regime to actually control its own population, make sure they're all happy. And that starts with the economy, but it's more than that as well, it's social as well. So this is why Xavier is absolutely right. You've got to consider every lever of national power.

Harry Kemsley: I'll wager that if I went to the open press and asked them to give a view of the likelihood of the Chinese invasion, whether it's for commercial reasons about the amount of papers they can sell, or access to their websites they can sell or not, the narrative would be very much based on the military, rather than any other. Let's just go back then to this PMESII framework of indicators that you talked about, which, on balance, suggests to you that the likelihood of a full scale military invasion in the next 12 months is extremely low, that that's not the most likely outcome by any means. What are you looking at, in terms of open source sources, and what kind of analysis are you doing? Just pick a few, to give some examples to the listener.

Xavier: So we have several sources that we're looking at. As Sean mentioned before, what we are trying to do is measure capability and intent. So inevitably, we have to go to official sources for that. That is speeches, statements made by political leadership on both sides of the strait. I think that's one of the most important indicators that we have. In China, we picked three people, or three institutions, let's say. Xi Jinping, Wang Huning, who is a member of the political standing... Sorry, of the standing committee, of the political world, of the Communist Party of China. And one of the most interesting persons in the Communist Party has been the chief ideolog for the party for the last 30 years, and he's been reportedly tasked with developing a new model for Taiwan, to convince the Taiwanese to accept the embrace of the modern, if you will. And then, of course, the Taiwan Affairs Office, which is the body or the agency within China's government, and the Communist Party, that deals with Taiwan. So we've tracked their statements, how they refer to Taiwan, how they refer to the Taiwan issue, how they refer to the Taiwanese as well, because for example, potentially, dehumanization of the Taiwanese would be an indicator that something's going to change in the way the Chinese leadership is tackling this. We haven't seen any of that. We've done the same for Taiwan, to see how they refer to mainland China, to mainland Chinese. All the sources we've been using from official sources, let's say, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade data on goods exchanged, and the value of goods exchanged. And of course, we have a wealth of Janes proprietary data on the military events, from military drills to equipment, that we have also used in this.

Harry Kemsley: So I get it. We look at the government sources, both sides, of its sentiment. Presumably, you're looking at the way they phrase their statements, as much as what they say overall. I mean the use of certain language. I noticed, Sean, you used the word regime, another person would say government. If there's an example of how a change of lexicon changes the meaning, and I think it's a dehumanization of the population is a very good indicator, I get that. What other indicators though, within language, can you use? I remember we spoke to one of the analysts at Janes about North Korea, and she described a whole series of statements that were very clear in their likely intent, because the way the narrative within the words changed. That certain words were being used, and it was basically conveying a slightly different message by... The assumption being, they were very carefully choosing the words. Do you see that as being something the Chinese, time to time, when they use discourse, they change the lexicon, change the narrative, through the change of lexicon?

Xavier: Yes, definitely. Probably more so in the case of the Communist Party of China, because I wouldn't say everything, but a big part of what they say is codified.

Harry Kemsley: Qualified?

Xavier: Codified.

Harry Kemsley: Codified.

Xavier: Codified, sorry.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah.

Xavier: In the sense that political leadership puts forward the terms that they want to use through speeches, but also through internal education campaigns, and pretty much all the different layers of power within the party start using them. And one of the key words that they use to refer to the Taiwanese is a compatriot, which in Chinese is foreign language, which means people... Literally it means same womb, as in people who come from the same womb. I think if they ever stop using this, or they change it to just Taiwanese citizens, it'd be much easier for them to justify an aggressive action against the Taiwanese. As you refer to them as people from the same womb-

Harry Kemsley: Yes.

Xavier: It's very difficult to explain-

Harry Kemsley: Almost like their kid. They're almost like a kid.

Xavier: Yes.

Harry Kemsley: Yes. Interesting. That's a fascinating example of how you could analyze what on the face of it looks like relatively straightforward language, but actually, the nuance in the language is the message that you've got to decodify. What other examples could you give? That's a great example. Are there any other examples you could give, in maybe the other aspects of PMESII, that you've used as indicators?

Xavier: So from the top of my head, one of the most interesting ones, I think, is... I think I mentioned that before too, is the social exchanges. Because there's a load happening at the local and provincial level in China, or county level in Taiwan, that escapes our radar, or most people's radars. We tracked, if I remember well now, 85 exchanges during the year, the non- governmental exchanges, that is, between China and Taiwan, that coincided with the lifting of zero Covid restrictions in China and in Taiwan. And what it showed is that there is a very, let's say, vivid business ecosystem between both, because for many people, on both sides of the strait, the opposite side is also the closest region, in a way. So that is interesting. But besides that, because as I was saying, the important thing is to look at it as a whole, the important thing is that we have that as a piece of the puzzle with the rest of the indicators. This, in isolation, doesn't tell us much, but when we put that together with statements from, let's say, the government in China saying, " What we need to do is build integration zones between mainland China and Taiwan." That gives us an indication that what China is saying they will do, they're trying to do. At the same time though, these are offset by military actions. So it's important for us to take everything into account inaudible.

Harry Kemsley: I totally get that. Sean, it's fascinating, isn't it? You listened to that conversation. What I remember, a long time ago, was an attempt to be a very structured look at the military capabilities, where they are, what they've been doing recently, what the tactics look like, how would we confront and challenge those tactics? How would we do all the things we need to do to disrupt and destroy it, if need be? I don't remember ever having a conversation about the language being used, and the way the social interactions are being analyzed, as a part of the overall puzzle. Or is that an unfair criticism?

Sean Corbett: It's partially fair, and again, it depends on what level you sit. I mean, with us, being our military background, that would be our focus, because we're looking at developing counter tactics and all the rest of it. So I don't underestimate the importance of military capability development, as I would countenance it. So for example, why would they build aircraft carriers if they've only got local security at heart? Which is what they've said. That's a blue water capability. That is power projection writ large, that is. And there's that bit in the middle as well, that... And this is really, I think it's really interesting, in terms of normalizing the abnormal. China's really good at that. So we know for some time they've been penetrating the Taiwanese air defense zones. But now, the next level up is to try and change, and you'll understand this better than I, but change international flight routes, so that actually it's normalized to go over that. So at what stage is... Does then that, which is now the new normal, but it's not, then regularized, and you get used to it, and then suddenly, it's used for something else. So there's that dichotomy there, but there's also that sort of fused approach that you need to take. So back to what you're saying, is certainly, it depends, again, what level you sit at. So if I was within the permanent joint headquarters, I'd be looking at, " Okay, how are they developing their capabilities, how do we counter that?" But if I was sitting within MOD, I would hope, and I know they were, be looking at more the strategic element of that. The key is for the different levels of intelligence to be talking to each other. Now, that didn't always happen in those days.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, I get that. I guess, Xavier, from where you're sitting, looking at these various indices, these various measures of likely activity together, how much time does it take to develop the index of these risks? And how much time does it take to maintain them? Because it sounds like a pretty labor- intensive activity.

Xavier: It is. I was tempted to say it was, but I'd rather say it is.

Harry Kemsley: It's a living thing.

Xavier: Yes. So we built indicators. It took us several weeks, months. Of course we're working on other things as well, but the important thing for us, it was three of us working on the inaudible colleagues inaudible also involved was the feedback process. We had an initial idea, presented it to the team, discussed it, changed it, presented it to other analysts, discussed it, and eventually, we came up with the 17 indicators we have now. We built the report, there is a baseline report, and we will continue to work on this with these indicators. Now, our idea is this is a live project. So although we think now, if you ask me now, I think these are the most solid indicators we could find, these are the most inaudible approach you could think of, we are open to feedback. Because there's a live situation, the project has to be able to pivot, or to adapt to solid feedback, or to changing realities.

Harry Kemsley: I guess the ultimate feedback, is it not, is to say the index that we've created across the 17 indices suggests this? And then you see what happens.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, and this is both the opportunity and the challenge, is to try and create a process by which is flexible enough to be repeatable, and structured in a way that is a good formula, that suggests the best case and the worst case, but not so rigid that you always come out with the answer X or Y, when actually there's nuances involved. That is probably one of the real big conundrums within the intelligence community. How do you effectively do indicators as warnings? Yes, you want something that is structured, and you can say, " Right, here's the template, let's go." But, so again, in the old days, when we used to use Excel spreadsheets, where we'd come up with a inaudible scenario, like these are the 10 things. If seven out of the 10 are showing red traffic light systems, or even amber, hopefully, then you start looking at it in greater detail. I mean, it sounds easy, but it's actually quite complicated. So that work is really important actually, and I know you're doing it within Janes, but coming up with something that is repeatable enough to be a process that says, " Look, this is going to lead us to a balance of probabilities, so nothing's absolute, that says that in all likelihood, what does that mean? In all likelihood, this is going to happen, with the caveats that the alternative hypothesis, that's the third time I've said this in the last few podcasts, it's obviously, clearly on my mind, could be this, this, and this." So it is that balance between getting a template, and being flexible enough to adapt the analysis.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, so the feedback will help you adapt. Your updates to the report, the baseline report you've created, will help you understand, presumably, the trends that start to emerge. If you were to step forward 24, 36 months, currently, it sounds like your forecast is limited to the next 12 months, but presumably, as this report becomes more trend based rather than snapshot based, you're able to see projections going forward.

Xavier: Yes.

Harry Kemsley: Not that I'm going to hold you to it, but I'm just curious to see where this is going.

Xavier: So it's a tricky period, to answer that question. I think the next 12 to 24 months are going to be... Let me split the answer. The next 24, sorry, the next, the coming 12 months, and then the 12 months afterwards.

Harry Kemsley: Okay.

Xavier: The first bit is that... It's not easy, but it's easier. I think, or from what we have seen, what we believe, is that most actors, and when we say actors, we think about the Communist Party, we think about the Taiwanese authorities and government and parliament, and the United States, will probably exercise restraint in 2024. They have different reasons. They have one common reason, which is status quo and peace, as fragile as it might be, but peace is in the best interest of every actor involved. But there are other reasons, which is uncertainty. In the case of the Communist Party of China, probably they are now trying to assess what went wrong for them in the Taiwanese elections. How come the DPP authorities managed to secure a third term? While some people might be saying, " Well, they lost the parliament in Taiwan." Political parties will be doing some sort of, I assume, catharsis for the elections as well, and try to find their positioning for the coming four years. And in the US, we have the elections. And I think it's unlikely, probably very unlikely, that anyone in China suggests making a big move ahead of the elections in the US. Because probably, the Communist Party leadership, the way they say it is, whatever they do will very likely be used against them in this month when the parties in the US will try to position themselves as the best option for the voters. So yeah, first 12 months, very likely that everyone will exercise restraint, fingers crossed. And then going forward, who knows?

Harry Kemsley: Keep an eye on those indices. So Sean, I heard a phrase recently from a colleague who's still in service, in a relatively senior position in intelligence, and he said the most frightening word he'd heard at his side, certainly, for a long time was simultanaity, meaning Ukraine, Gaza, Taiwan.

Sean Corbett: Yep. So this is why, and for the audience, I say this every year, but we'll all be dead by Christmas. I never say which Christmas it is, I'm kind of worried about this Christmas. So don't panic, everybody. But this is... Seriously, I'm being slightly flippant there, but if I was red teaming right now, the right time, if anything serious is going to happen by any regime, for China, is while the rest of the world is distracted. There is so much going on in the world right now, that's both taking political bandwidth, military bandwidth, and economic bandwidth, that if you're going to do anything that's a shock, you do it while the distraction is there, or while the resource isn't there. If you look at what's happening, well, the things you just said, in terms of pure capability and are they going to succeed? I would go now. Now, that's all very negative, because the INW indicates that China is not in a position to do that now without getting a bloody nose. So this is where I agree, in terms of the next 12 to 24 months, looking at the totality of the political, the economic and the military posture, will give us a much better idea about what's going to happen. So I'm not saying that we will all be dead by Christmas, of course I'm not. But what I'm saying is that absolutely, from a purely military perspective, in terms of the element of surprise and preparedness, is now would be a good time.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. Okay. All right. All right, as ever, time evaporates on us. So Xavier, I'm going to come to you in just a second, in terms of the one takeaway that you'd like audience to think about as they finish listening to this podcast. I'm going to go to Sean first, and I'll go last, just to be fair that I go last occasionally. So Sean, what's your thoughts in terms of a takeaway for the audience on the nutty issue of China and Taiwan, but also the OSINT aspect we talked about.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, so for me, the key thing is coming up with a methodology, within indicators and warnings, that is effective enough that we can base a model around it, without being too constrained by it, and understanding that sometimes we get it wrong. I sometimes mention the Syria conflict, where for two years, we were saying that the Syrian regime had six months to survive and then it was going to get over. It never happened, and it still hasn't happened. Why did we get that wrong? Well, probably, well, almost certainly, we got the methodology wrong. We didn't realize at the time, because we went through it several times and said, " No, no, still think that." But so you've got to get that methodology right, but also have the flexibility and the feedback loop, as you said, to actually be able to test and adjust.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, I totally agree with that. Xavier?

Xavier: From a China point of view, or speaking as a China analyst, I think an important point to always keep in mind is the amount of information that we actually have out there. It's easy to say that the Chinese information environment is opaque, or closed, and there's a degree of truth in that, of course, but there is a lot of information. And when facing a certain event, or given event, I think the best we can do is always push a pause button, take a step back, look at the trend, look at the other factors, and think, " Okay, how does this fit into that wider trend?"

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, that's a great point. Sean, I guess that relates to your point about the first story is almost always not right. To stand back, take a knee, as some would say, and assess. So for me, I think the takeaway for me today is the point you made, Xavier, about how you look into PMESII, and you look for things that I hadn't thought of. I mentioned it in my question to you, Sean. The idea that you would look at the PMESII framework, social interactions between Taiwanese and counterpart Chinese businesses, and how those are working, and what the language is being used. That's a very interesting insight, and it's sort of example for me of a nuance in the open source environment that I don't know that I ever would've looked for or seen. Again, maybe because I was at the wrong level, but I don't remember seeing that before in my previous life, and it's definitely the take away from you today. So Xavier, thank you, as ever. It's a great delight to have such expertise available to me and to Sean for these conversations. We'll come back, maybe before 12 months is up, but let's see how the next 12 months pans out, with all the elections going on around the world. Did you say earlier, Sean, that there were some billions of people going through an election process in the coming-

Sean Corbett: I think something like two thirds of the globe is either just gone through or going through elections this yeah.

Harry Kemsley: So clearly, we're in a period of change. The only constant is change. Let's have a conversation again in a few months' time, just to see how that picture's changed, but until then, Xavier, thank you.

Xavier: Looking forward to that one. Thank you very much.

Harry Kemsley: Thank you very much.

Speaker 1: Thanks for joining us this week on The World of Intelligence. Make sure to visit our website, janes. com/ podcast. Or you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode.


In this podcast Janes analyst F Xavier Casals joins Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett for a deep dive into China Taiwan relations. 

Xavier explores how by using the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information (PMESII) framework we can gather structured analysis and more complete picture of China’s future intent.  

Today's Host

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Harry Kemsley

|President of Government & National Security, Janes

Today's Guests

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F Xavier Casals

|Lead Analyst within the Northeast Asia and Oceania Country Intelligence team at Janes
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Sean Corbett

|AVM (ret’d) Sean Corbett CB MBE MA, RAF