One China Policy is polite fiction, at best. A nation of millions simply does not vanish because their antagonistic neighbor wants them to.
The island democracy governs itself, but China claims it as its territory. Rumors of Pelosi’s visit launched a geopolitical firestorm amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.
The Taiwanese government has operated separately from the mainland since nationalists fled there after losing the civil war to communists in 1949. Thirty years later, the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, adopting what’s known as the “One China” policy, in which Washington acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is a part of China. However, the U.S. has never supported China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and maintains a substantial, though unofficial, relationship with the island.
Pelosi penned an opinion piece published by the Washington Post upon her arrival citing the Taiwan Relations Act as establishing a commitment to Taiwan’s democracy and defense, adding, “We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience.” She said Taiwan is under threat by the government in Beijing economically, in cyberspace, and potentially by military force.
By law, the U.S. is obligated to provide Taiwan with weapons and services. But the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” keeps open the question of whether it would intervene in the case of a military invasion by China. The Biden administration has been accused of mixed messaging on this, after Biden said on multiple occassions that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense; a sentiment the White House walked back.
The Chinese government remains adamantly opposed to any official exchanges between Taiwan’s government and other foreign governments, and views official American contact with Taiwan as an indication of support for its independence.
(click here to continue reading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan : NPR.)
The issue, besides military posturing, is economics. American businesses rely heavily upon both China and Taiwan, any additional escalation will be devastating to economies of the world.
From the People’s Republic of China perspective, One China policy is akin to Putin’s One Russia policy, namely that everywhere Russia once held territory, it should take it back, by force if necessary. The PRC hated Hong Kong when it has democracy so took action to crush independent Hong Kong, and hates that Taiwan is thriving capitalist democracy right across the Taiwan Strait. There is real danger that the PRC has plans to invade Taiwan, or otherwise attack it, and they should be stopped.
From Speaker Pelosi’s OpEd:
Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience. Taiwan is a leader in governance: currently, in addressing the covid-19 pandemic and championing environmental conservation and climate action. It is a leader in peace, security and economic dynamism: with an entrepreneurial spirit, culture of innovation and technological prowess that are envies of the world.
Yet, disturbingly, this vibrant, robust democracy — named one of the freest in the world by Freedom House and proudly led by a woman, President Tsai Ing-wen — is under threat.
In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is “likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”
The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC.
In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.
(click here to continue reading Opinion | Nancy Pelosi: Why I’m leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan – The Washington Post.)
The PRC cannot back down at the moment due to domestic politics, but let’s all hope1 that cooler heads prevail. Not many truly want a war in Asia. A more likely outcome will be military displays off the coast of Taiwan and bluster. And bluster. And bluster…
Taiwanese government officials confirm they have received notice that Pelosi will definitely arrive in Taipei tomorrow evening
US Navy sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan/two assault ships USS Tripoli and USS America with F-35 fighters to the Taiwan area pic.twitter.com/l8O8KcawnK
— Herman van Noordwyk (@NoordwykHerman)
The Guardian U.K.
China has strongly objected to Pelosi’s visit, with a foreign ministry spokesperson warning on Tuesday afternoon that the US would be “held liable and pay the price for hurting China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
“Faced with reckless US disregard of China’s repeated and serious representations, any countermeasures taken by the Chinese side will be justified and necessary,” said Hua Chunying.
Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported several Chinese warships and planes had travelled near the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait. Citing unnamed sources, the report said the vessels had been in the area since Monday, while the latest flights occurred on Tuesday morning, prompting Taiwan’s air force to scramble its aircraft in response.
Taiwan’s defence ministry has earlier reportedly adjusted and strengthened its military’s combat readiness in response to the threat of China. According to the public broadcaster CNA, it had not formally changed the readiness level, which relates to two stages: the current regular staging, and wartime.
On Chinese social media on Tuesday there were multiple photos of dozens of tanks and other military vehicles on the streets in Xiamen, a Chinese city five kilometres across the water from the Taiwan island of Kinmen.
(click here to continue reading Taiwan and China step up military rhetoric as expected Pelosi visit looms | Taiwan | The Guardian.)Footnotes:
- yes, yes, hope is not a plan [↩]