Tensions are rising between China and the United States, and a meeting between the two leaders is expected to be the latest point of contention between the world’s two superpowers.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embarked on a tour of the Indo-Pacific, visiting Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
but one Infuriated China – Taiwan.
She is expected to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, and will be the first US House speaker to visit the country, which Beijing does not recognize under the “one China” principle as a sovereign state, in a quarter of a century.
Sources say Pelosi will arrive there on Tuesday, and while the White House has not confirmed the visit, they said she has the right to go.
On the other hand, Beijing does not believe that is the case. Chinese President Xi Jinping Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the visit would lead to “very serious developments and consequences” and that the nation’s army “will not stand idly by.”
Meanwhile, the United States warned China not to turn Pelosi’s visit into a “crisis” and said it “would not be intimidated” by continuing to move freely in the Pacific.
And it wasn’t just a war of words that broke out – there was an increase in military activity, too. China in the Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi’s possible visit, while the United States has moved aircraft carriers and large aircraft closer to Taiwan.
So why exactly is this visit so controversial, and what could it lead to?
Why are there tensions between Taiwan and China?
This goes back to the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), which controlled most of the mainland, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It started in 1927 and remains unresolved to this day.
The Kuomintang withdrew to Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China (ROC)) in 1949 after the Chinese Communist Party gained the upper hand in the war and went on to establish the People’s Republic of China.
In the early 1970s, Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations and its seat was given to the People’s Republic of China. It was also a decade in which countries began to shift diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China, including the United States in 1979.
But in the same year, the United States established informal relations with the Republic of China. Then-President Jimmy Carter ratified the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States will provide the country with defensive weapons so that it can maintain “adequate self-defense capabilities.”
Nancy Pelosi will visit Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea on her Indo-Pacific tour, and possibly Taiwan. source: SBS News
Jennifer Hsu, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, said Taiwan’s regime change has also reduced Taiwan residents’ desire for union with China.
“Taiwan passed in the early 1990s the establishment of democracy, where the people of Taiwan can elect their own government,” she said. “So they moved from authoritarian rule to the democracy that comes alive today.”
“So over the past 30 years, the people of Taiwan have gotten younger and their ties to China become looser and more fluid. So there is an agitation among many for a voice that is more independent and independent and separate and different from China.”
The Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, but Mr. Xi has set a “grand rejuvenation” goal for 2049 that some believe is a deadline for reunification.
Why is the visit controversial?
Pelosi’s visit is not without precedent, although it will be the first by a US House speaker in more than two decades.
The last time someone in that position visited Taiwan was in 1997, when Republican Newt Gingrich stopped there after visiting then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Mr. Jiang expressed some concerns at the time about what this meant for America’s “one China” policy (which “doesn’t challenge” the position that there is one China and Taiwan is part of it), but he was more optimistic, saying that relations between Washington and Beijing had entered a state ” Sunshine after rain.
US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (right) speaks with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui at a meeting at Mr. Lee’s office in Taipei on April 2, 1997. source: AAP, AP / Eddie Shih
This is no longer the case. Relations have grown increasingly frosty over the years, including during the Biden era, which opened in January 2021.
In his first foreign policy address, in February 2021, Biden said that China was “the most dangerous competitor to the United States.” There has also been a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and the two countries have also imposed sanctions on each other.
While the US maintains its position on the “one China” policy unchanged (in fact, the US State Department recently brought back a line in Taiwan’s fact sheet indicating that it does not support the country’s independence), Ms. Hsu said China has evolved significantly since the master. Gingrich visited and this could explain his current anger.
“China is now stronger, more assertive, and some might say a more aggressive force than it was 25 years ago,” she said.
“Under Xi Jinping, the reunification of Taiwan has become permanently important to him, and therefore the Chinese Communist Party.
“China sees Nasi Pelosi’s visit as a real violation of the ‘one China’ policy…and…in the current geopolitical context, [US-China] The relationship is strained as it is without Nancy Pelosi making the visit.”
What could happen as a result of Nancy Pelosi’s visit?
Biden initially questioned Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, saying he thought the military thought it was “not a good idea right now.”
Days later, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had submitted a “security assessment” to Pelosi regarding her Indo-Pacific tour, but did not comment on the expected stop in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Beijing intensified its warnings, saying it was “seriously prepared” for the possibility of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
It was also said that such a visit would be “very dangerous, very provocative”.
If this happens, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said on Monday, “China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
But Kevin Carrico, a senior lecturer in Chinese studies at Monash University in Melbourne, doubts Pelosi’s visit will lead to military conflict.
“It seems that the Chinese Communist Party’s proposed attack on Taiwan is always on the horizon,” Cariko said.
“It’s something the Chinese Communist Party talks about with great concern, but it never really materializes.
“I think it’s a very real possibility when the military balance of power shifts in Beijing’s favour, and that’s something we need to watch out for.
“When the time comes, there will be an excuse to attack, even if it is not a real excuse.”
– With Reuters and Agence France-Presse.