李代桃僵 means to sacrifice a relatively less important person or item and allow the more important item to escape when both are threatened.
Hu Xijin is a Chinese political propagandist, journalist and the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a state-owned tabloid under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper.
In 2020, the Gobal Times published an article suggesting that Chinese fighter jets should enter into Taiwan’s claimed airspace and if shot down, consider it to be a declaration of war. There was also a Weibo message from the Global Times threatening the US that if any US military aircraft landed or took off from Taiwan, China would also consider it a declaration of war and invade Taiwan with the objective of “reunification”. For months, pundits and other qualified experts feared that war might break out across the Straits.
TAIPEI, June 6 2021 (Reuters) – The United States will donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan as part of the country’s plan to share shots globally, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said on Sunday, offering a much-needed boost to the island’s fight against the pandemic.
Taiwan is dealing with a spike in domestic cases but has been affected like many places by global vaccines shortages. Only around 3% of its 23.5 million people have been vaccinated, with most getting only the first shot of two needed.
Speaking at Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport after arriving on a three-hour visit with fellow Senators Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons, Duckworth said Taiwan would be getting 750,000 doses as part of the first tranche of US donations.
The important thing to note here is that it was a US C-17 military aircraft that landed and took off in Taiwan. It was a direct challenge to the CCP’s “promise” (made through the Global Times) to invade and belligerently reunify with Taiwan if the US Airforce tried to land and take off from Taiwanese soil. In the wake of this “provocation”, China released a statement saying that US senators visiting Taiwan on a military plane was a “vile provocation”. Of course, it was obligatory for the PLA to reply with a few threatening airspace intrusions but they did not fire a single shot to make good their threat.
That’s like challenging Xu Xiaodong to a duel, promising to knock him out with your Taiji Quan but failing to turn up on the day of the duel. Would you still have the cheek to say 好戏在后头?
Nationalistic Chinese netizens were up in arms. Some were still naively waiting to watch the invasion of Taiwan live on TV. Others expected some form of action that would at least cripple the US or Taiwan. They were all disappointed. And of course, all those threats made against Taiwan and the US could not have been made without the approval of the Boss himself. It was a tremendous loss of face for the Boss who and although Hu Xijin had often bent over backwards for the boss and tweeted threats and accusations, trolling international social media platforms with his churlish remarks to show his “patriotism”, he ended up being sacrificed – as predicted by unqualified non-experts.
Just weeks after the embarrassment that the US had caused China, Hu Xijin was forced to announce his “retirement”. This is a fine example of 李代桃僵, one of the 36 Dirty Tricks From Ancient China.