Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, raising tensions between the US and China

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday for an unannounced but widely anticipated and controversial visit that is sure to deepen tensions between the United States and China and fears of a military conflict between the two superpowers.

Pelosi (D-San Francisco), an outspoken critic of Beijing, is the highest-ranking US elected official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Even before she arrived during an official tour of Asia, the prospect of a stopover in Taiwan angered Beijing, which sees the trip as a challenge to its claim to sovereignty over the self-governing island.

“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan underscores America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi wrote on Twitter within minutes of her arrival at Taipei airport. The closely watched flight from Malaysia took a long way around the South China Sea and landed shortly after 10:40 pm, where Pelosi was greeted by officials including Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

In research on China, she added that support for Taiwan “is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between authoritarianism and democracy,” but she also insisted that her visit was “in no way inconsistent” with US policy toward China and Taiwan. that have held out for decades.

Pelosi was scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Chinese officials were quick to threaten retaliation, warning that the country’s army was ready to act and that “those who play with fire will perish with it.” The aggressive rhetoric raised concerns about a military escalation, prompting a debate about the wisdom of Pelosi’s trip and the possible backlash against it.

After Pelosi landed in Taiwan, the Chinese Defense Ministry condemned the visit and said it would launch a series of targeted military operations. The Army’s Eastern Theater Command began a series of long-range live-fire naval and air exercises in the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday evening, state media said.

According to Chinese state media, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army planned to hold military exercises from Thursday through Sunday across the island, after Pelosi was scheduled to leave.

The democratically governed island of 23 million has become a central point of contention in the deteriorating US-China relationship. With growing distrust between the two countries, analysts said Pelosi’s visit could lead to misunderstandings and a military clash, even though neither side wants war.

“The risk of an unintended crisis as a result of large-scale military postures by China is uncomfortably high,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group. “It is very possible that policymakers on both sides could radically misread the intentions of the other.”

A lengthy call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week on issues including Taiwan failed to defuse tensions over the visit. Given the growing hostility, Hsiao said, the United States, China and Taiwan will need to move cautiously to avoid worsening the situation.

China’s global influence and influence has grown since the last visit of a US official with the rank of Pelosi, when then-House Speaker, Republican Newt Gingrich, traveled to Taiwan in 1997 to meet with then-President Lee Teng-hui. Although some experts in the United States have warned that Pelosi’s trip, while offering few financial benefits, could lead to a backlash from Beijing turning into a larger crisis, others worry that a cancellation will be seen. It is seen as yielding to Chinese pressure and undermining confidence in US support for Taiwan.

While the Biden administration is reluctant to look soft on China, it also has little interest in antagonizing the country’s leadership, particularly with the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine. The United States has warned China not to provide material support to Russia, and it will be hard-pressed to meet challenges from both countries simultaneously.

Before Pelosi’s trip, Biden said the Pentagon had advised against doing so, but was taking steps to ensure her safety. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the visit does not conflict with long-established US policy, and should not be a reason to increase China’s military activity.

Analysts said that although Beijing is under pressure to follow through on its warnings, it will want to stop actions that could push it into war with the United States, which abides by federal law to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. Biden previously said the United States would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan, though the administration has retracted the comments each time. China’s countermeasures, which include missile tests, expanded military exercises, and more aggressive air and sea flights, are a step up from normal military activity across Taiwan and indicate a more provocative situation.

More terrifying possibilities might include a directed naval blockade of the main port city of Kaohsiung in the southwest, no-fly zones over the Taiwan Strait and military exercises targeting the north near the capital Taipei and the east, cutting the Taiwan Canal outward. Globalism. These scenarios would represent a major escalation and pose a serious risk to the Taiwanese military, which would have to respond with a stampede of warplanes and naval assets.

“The Chinese military will not target the United States,” said Eugene Koo, director of the National Policy Research Institute at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan. “China will punish Taiwan.”

China has also suspended imports of foodstuffs from more than 100 companies in Taiwan, local media reported here Tuesday. China had previously banned Taiwanese products such as pineapple and grouper, which are seen as an attempt to put economic pressure on the island.

China has always considered Taiwan part of its territory, although the island has never been ruled by the Communist Party. After losing the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Chinese Nationalist Party fled to Taiwan with the goal of one day recovering the country. In 1979, Washington transferred diplomatic relations to the Communist Party, and adopted a policy of recognizing Beijing’s claim to Taiwan, without ratifying it. Meanwhile, Taiwan transitioned to democratic rule, and its citizens increasingly viewed their cultural and political identity as separate from mainland China.

As Beijing ramped up its calls for unification and flooded the island with record numbers of warplanes, rising tensions have prompted some officials to warn of the possibility of an attack in the next few years.

Xi, who is expected to break Chinese political norms by securing a third five-year presidential term later this year, regards unity with Taiwan of paramount importance under his broader goal of “national rejuvenation.” The Chinese leader is dealing with domestic challenges ahead of the expected extension of the period, including the real estate crisis and the economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns. A weak response to Pelosi’s visit could undermine his leadership at a politically sensitive time.

How strongly China chooses to pay is entirely up to Xi, Kuo said. But if he “does not respond forcefully to Pelosi’s visit, he will face enormous challenges from other factions within the Communist Party.”

Here in Taiwan, few seem to pay close attention to Pelosi’s visit as those living abroad.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine raised awareness of the possibility of conflict with China, spurring initiatives to bolster defenses in the Taiwanese military and among civilians. However, many locals are skeptical that Pelosi’s visit will lead to a fundamental change in China’s militaristic approach to Taiwan.

“The visit should not be interpreted as a provocation, but rather as support for maintaining the status quo across the strait,” said Wen Li, director of the Matsu Islands branch of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. “I think it is important for Taiwan to continue to receive public signals of support from fellow democracies.”

Yang reported from Taipei and Pearson from Singapore.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.