Chinese President Xi Jinping's purging of political rivals and elevation of loyalists to the top ranks of the Chinese Communist party has raised fears that his now unfettered and unquestionable power could increase the risk of an attack on Taiwan, the media reported.
Beijing has pledged to annex Taiwan under a disputed claim that it is a Chinese province, and in recent years has increased its military activity and other forms of harassment and coercion, The Guardian reported.
No timeline has been set, but senior defence figures have said China could be capable of invasion as early as 2027. Others point to Xi's pledge of "national rejuvenation" by 2047 -- the centenary of the People's Republic of China -- as a potential goal.
But with the events of last week's CCP congress, which consolidated power around Xi at levels not seen for decades, some are now questioning whether there is anyone left in the party who could stop him from making a rash move, The Guardian reported.
The 20th party congress -- the most important meeting of China's political cycle -- ended with Xi's reappointment for a precedent breaking third term, and a reshuffle of officials.
The central committee, the politburo, the seven-member standing committee (PSC) and the Xi-led central military commission (CMC), which is in charge of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), are now dominated by loyalists and cleared of potential objectors and people from rival factions, The Guardian reported.
Official reports and constitutional amendments also enshrined its hardening official stance towards Taiwan that had escalated as recently as August with the release of a white paper.
Analysts and Taiwanese decision-makers are studying the changes to assess whether Xi's timeline for Taiwan is any shorter, or the same. After a week of watching the congress -- an exercise sometimes compared to reading tea leaves -- most agreed it definitely had not slowed.
Prof Steve Tsang, the director of the Soas China Institute, said the changes made last week unquestionably increased the risk of China using force against Taiwan.