As the Olympics begin in Tokyo, China is threatening Japan with a nuclear attack should it intervene in any hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Anxiety in both Japan and the island nation of Taiwan has been growing following a surge in aggressive rhetoric from China and an ongoing military buildup aimed primarily at the conquest of Taiwan. China now vows full scale war against Japan itself if that nation moves to assist Taiwan in that scenario.
China warns Japan
The Chinese may or may not be bluffing with their talk of full scale war. President Xi Jinping has pledged to take Taiwan and has made that a major focus for the Chinese Communist Party and their military.
The planned invasion would already be an enormous challenge for China, which would be forced to undertake a difficult amphibious assault against an enemy which likewise has been preparing for that confrontation for decades.
War with Japan would almost certainly mean war with South Korea and the United States. A nuclear exchange in this scenario would be unthinkable even for the most aggressive of Chinese leaders.
The great gamble for China will be made based on the likeliness of foreign intervention in a Taiwan conflict. China claims Taiwan as a rightful territory and believes that international involvement would be an attack on Chinese sovereignty.
Japan has been the vocal in supporting Taiwan recently as Chinese pressure increases and China is evidently eager to convince the Japanese to stay out of the matter.
The Chinese video which threatens full scale war against Japan also suggests that China could consider a more liberal policy regarding nuclear weapons, which it has previously promised to use only in self-defense.
How real is the threat?
China probably has no desire to use nuclear weapons, knowing what the inevitable response would be should they ever carry out their threats against Japan.
More likely the threats are an attempt by the Chinese to convince Japan that the risks of getting involved in a Taiwan confrontation are not worth any potential rewards that could come from keeping the fellow island nation as a friend.
China clearly (and correctly) smells weakness in the United States and its military amid the intense division and internal conflict taking place within this country.
The Chinese probably lack the naval power required for an invasion of Taiwan right now and they are unlikely to have it for several more years as they continue to strengthen their forces.
Still, testing the waters with threats and suggestions is a good way for the Chinese to gauge the level of interest which Japan and NATO might have in sending their soldiers to fight for Taiwan.
China may have no intention of using nuclear weapons or invading Taiwan just yet but if American leadership appears to be as absent or indecisive as it currently is once the Chinese are ready then an attack on the country is almost certain.