In the wake of an uptick in tensions with China over Taiwan, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just began a secretive tour of Asia, as seen here at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on July 29.
S. A. L. O. E. B. via Getty Images According to a source familiar with the preparations for her visit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday evening local time and is scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and legislators on Wednesday.
The White House is concerned that the widely anticipated stop could lead to a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and exacerbate already fragile U.S.-China ties. China has issued stern warnings on the stop. State television station CCTV reported that China sent two Su-35 fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait before Pelosi arrived, and a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry wrote on Twitter, “The US and Taiwan have made provocations together first, whereas China has been compelled to act in self-defense.”
The visit, which is part of Pelosi’s tour of Asia, which also includes stops in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, was not previously disclosed. Pelosi has been heading a small congressional delegation on her trip. Since former Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997, she is the highest-ranking elected American official to have done so. Before leaving on Wednesday, Pelosi will visit a museum and receive an award from the president of Taiwan, according to a source familiar with the visit’s preparations.
China claims it as its territory, but the island democracy runs itself. A geopolitical firestorm sparked by Pelosi’s visit rumors broke out amid rising tensions between the United States and China.
Since 1949, when nationalists fled to Taiwan after being defeated by communists in the civil war, the Taiwanese government has operated independently from the mainland. Thirty years later, Washington adopted the “One China” policy, recognizing Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a part of China and switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The United States, meanwhile, has never backed China’s assertion of its sovereignty over Taiwan and continues to have a close but unofficial connection with the island.
Pelosi wrote in an opinion piece published by the Washington Post that she will support Taiwan’s democracy and defense because of the Taiwan Relations Act, adding that “We must stand with Taiwan, which is an island of resilience.” She claimed that Taiwan is threatened economically, digitally, and possibly militarily by the Beijing administration.
“Our congressional delegation’s visit should be taken as an unequivocal signal that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it protects itself and its freedom,” Pelosi said. This is because of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) escalating aggressiveness.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Pelosi’s visit with a statement that, in part, called it a “severe infringement of the one-China principle.” The ministry continued, “It badly damages peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and sends the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence’ a seriously erroneous signal.”
The U.S. is required by law to give Taiwan arms and support. However, because of its “strategic ambiguity” strategy, the United States leaves open the possibility of military intervention in the event of a Chinese invasion. The Biden administration has come under fire for sending conflicting messages on this issue after Biden repeatedly stated that the United States will support Taiwan, a claim the White House later walked back.
The Chinese government continues to vehemently oppose any official communications between Taiwan’s administration and other foreign governments and interprets any American engagement with Taiwan as an endorsement of the island’s independence.
Days have passed since Biden and Xi chatted on the phone about a variety of topics, including Taiwan. According to the official U.S. readout of the call, Biden tried to reassure his Chinese counterpart that U.S. policy hasn’t changed, adding that Washington “strongly opposes unilateral moves to change the status quo or threaten peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The U.S. military believes Pelosi visiting Taiwan at this time is “not a good idea,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.
During a press conference on July 21, Pelosi stated, “It’s crucial for us to show solidarity for Taiwan.” After she arrived, a group of Republican senators made a statement praising her visit.
Pelosi added, “I also believe that none of us have ever stated that we support Taiwan’s independence. “Taiwan will decide that,”
A SENTIFICENT TIME According to senior scholar at the Brookings Institution Ryan Hass, “the visit will take place at a crucial time for Beijing.” It comes in the lead-up to a leadership conference this month to discuss plans for the future of China and falls on the same day as the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Day, the National Day honoring the founding of their military.
It also happens as Xi attempts to win a third term in power, breaking with convention, while simultaneously dealing with his own personal political and economic difficulties.
According to Bonnie Glaser, head of the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, “He may particularly feel that he can’t be seen as soft on the United States and hence react even more violently than he might otherwise.”
During their phone call, Xi allegedly warned Biden that “those who play with fire will get burned.”
ASIA In an earlier chat he had with President Biden, he used exactly the same terminology about Taiwan, according to Glaser. “That suggests to me that he purposefully chose not to say something that would be perceived as more scary than in the previous phone contact that he had,” the author said.
The White House requests calm China’s foreign ministry declared on Monday that if Pelosi visits Taiwan, the Chinese military “would not sit quietly by.”
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, pleaded with China not to ratchet up hostilities in reaction to any visit from Pelosi.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit into some sort of crisis or conflict or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said during a White House briefing on Monday afternoon. He added that members of Congress frequently travel to Taiwan.
Kirby noted that the Chinese military had conducted a live-fire practice close to Taiwan over the weekend, but he cautioned that China might act threateningly in response to such a visit.
In the next days and maybe over longer time periods, China “appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further actions,” the analyst said.
During a ceremony to present the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet with the Congressional Gold Medal, the Tibetan spiritual leader greeted Nancy Pelosi in this 2007 photo. Getty Images/TIM SLOAN/AFP remove caption
switch to caption Getty Images/TIM SLOAN/AFP
During a ceremony to present the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet with the Congressional Gold Medal, the Tibetan spiritual leader greeted Nancy Pelosi in this 2007 photo.
Getty Images/TIM SLOAN/AFP Pelosi is a prominent critic of China. Pelosi has a long history of being a hawk on China and a vocal supporter of human rights.
Two years after the horrific riots, Pelosi went to Tiananmen Square with a small congressional delegation in 1991. A banner that said, “to those who perished for democracy in China,” was unfurled with her assistance. Pelosi and two other Congressmen were subsequently given the designation pulled aside for questioning by Chinese authorities.
She actively worked to open a route for Chinese political prisoners and dissidents to enter the United States, according to Hass. She has long supported Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and she rarely passes up the chance to voice her opinions about Chinese acts that she believes are against American ideals or American interests.
Pelosi, who has an met with Hong Kong pro-democracy protestor rating, has been outspoken in her defense of the ethnic Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, who according to U.S. officials have been victims of a genocide.
She led the House’s passage of legislation last year imposing economic sanctions on China for goods produced there under the forced labor of Muslim Uyghurs and marketed to Americans.
Pelosi declared at the time, “I take second place to no one in the Congress of the United States in my criticism of China.
Hass stated that he believes Pelosi’s lengthy record and the “symbolism” of her coming to Taiwan as the person second in line for the presidency “trigger” Beijing.
IS CHINA GOING TO REACT? The last significant crisis in the Taiwan Strait occurred in 1995 and 1996 when Lee Teng-hui, the leader of Taiwan at the time, attempted to travel to his alma mater in the United States. In the end, Lee did go to Taiwan, angered China replied by firing missiles into the area’s waterways, and then-President Bill Clinton dispatched aircraft ships to the area.
The justification, according to Hass, was that “Chinese communists couldn’t tell the United States who they can grant a visa to.” “The current claim is that Chinese Communists have no right to restrict the speaker of the house’s travel or meeting schedule. As a result, the previous cross-strait crisis is coming to mind.”
The final decision Beijing makes about Pelosi’s visit may have a significant impact on future U.S.-China ties as well as regional dynamics. Because Xi is balancing multiple local, international, and economic political factors, predicting his next moves is challenging.
“Xi has established a political reputation for strength, commitment, and toughness in the face of American pressure over the last 10 years,” Hass added. “I don’t think he will want to do anything that could weaken or degrade the brand that he’s established in the lead-up to a party conference where his future fate would be determined,” I said.
There won’t be any “direct attacks on the United States or any of our aircrafts or vessels accompanying this visit,” according to Bonny Lin, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ China Power Project.
However, there is a danger that an accident may happen if China decided to engage in aggressive maneuvers against American or Taiwanese planes or vessels, such as attempting to fire warning shots at our ships or aircraft.
Beyond using military force, Lin asserts, China would probably retaliate in some way on the political or economic fronts. She claims that includes the global stage as well.
“Is it possible that China may escalate by lending Russia additional geopolitical support? is the question we should be asking. There are several potential effects that the Pelosi visit would have if that is even a possibility.”