Adventurism is an absolute necessity at times. Proving this, American president Joseph Biden and his defence coterie decide on a mandatory immediate visit to Taiwan. They choose Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, for this risky mission. Pelosi will now land in Taiwan at 10:20 pm local time on 2 August 2022, kindling hopes of deliverance in oppressed Taiwan.
For starters, speaker Pelosi and her congressional delegation launched their Asian tour on 31 July. This tour, with a heart-stopping visit to Taiwan, is clearly in defiance of China’s stern warnings of a military response if Pelosi entered the self-governing, but China-claimed, Taiwanese territory.
Security Worries over Taiwan
Though Pelosi’s itinerary shows high-level meetings in Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, she has decided to go to Taiwan too. Particularly because security worries over Taiwan have been keeping Pentagon foreheads furrowed in recent months. Thus, Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a high-level visit to the semiconductor island by a top-notch US official in 25 years.
There are other reasons behind Pelosi’s historic decision to visit Taiwan. Her president Biden is a strong votary of an independent and democratic Taiwan. A good reason why Pelosi is visiting the island now. As a sabre-rattling China keeps spewing out threats after threats, steelier Biden and Pelosi are dead determined now to ensure Pelosi’s Taiwan visit happened despite Dragon’s dire warnings.
Clearly, China is a threat for democracies. Fighting this threat is top priority for United States. By inference, Pelosi is sure to turn this historical visit into a never-miss opportunity to reinforce this message. Doing so has become extremely necessary after Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine and China’s overt-covert support for this aggression.
Threat to Expansionary Politics
Surely, Pentagon has done a serious risk-return analysis. As benefits from Pelosi’s Taiwan visit outweigh the risks and threats, Pentagon has gone ahead to add Taiwan to Pelosi’s itinerary. However, this decision kicks up two questions: Why is China, infuriated by Pelosi’s impending visit to Taiwan, risking a military offensive and willy-nilly forcing a premature finality on Taiwan’s independence? Will it not be wiser for China to ignore Pelosi’s visit, tone down its military threats and keep Taiwan off the global headlines?
In the midst of such posers, do not ignore one material fact. In a business-as-usual style, US politicians have always visited Taiwan. In 1997, US Speaker Newt Gingrich went to Taiwan despite China’s pronounced expression of displeasure. In 2020, US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan, followed by many such events. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan%E2%80%93United_States_relations
Then, what makes Pelosi’s visit so alarming for China? Alarming because it is happening when China’s howls over Taiwan re-unification have risen in pitch and frequency. Thus, by logic, Pelosi’s Taiwan visit is seen by China now as a threat to its expansionary politics. As global concerns have multiplied manifold and China has grown into a bigger threat since the 1997 visit by Gingrich, China is now getting clearly unnerved by Pelosi coming over to the island.
Votary of Human Rights
This is why China is not handling Pelosi’s Taiwan visit with kid gloves. More so as she has come via US military bases in Guam and Hawaii. Plus, in China, Pelosi’s defiance is reviving ghosts of perceived historic wrongs. Thus, a riled China is not taking lightly the US penchant for officially recognising Taiwan and not doing the same to China. Beijing will never accept US treating the Taiwan Relations Act as gospel truth and offering the island everything it needs to defend itself from China’s expansionary manoeuvres.
These are the reasons why, even when Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was in the regions of conjecture, China was conducting drills with live arms and ammunition within a radius of 100 to 130 kilometres from Taiwan. This is the rationale behind China getting its military war-ready now in the Taiwan Strait. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/30/china-announces-military-exercise-opposite-taiwan-0004881
Yet, Pelosi did make up her mind to visit Taiwan as Biden places high premium on protecting democracies from threatening autocracies. As she is visiting Taiwan now, Pelosi, a votary of human rights, is sure to become a splitting headache for Xi Jinping.
China may sabotage Pelosi’s aircraft or launch an attack on her while returning from Taiwan. However, in a stroke of good luck for Pelosi and her team, these fears may evaporate in double quick time. Xi Jinping is on the verge of seeking a third consecutive term and he will not do anything to upset his autocratic applecart.
As these thoughts began to cast a sobering spell, it is pertinent to recall what Pelosi said in her pre-visit press conference: “The delegation will travel to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to allies and friends in the region”. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/31/nancy-pelosi-confirms-asia-trip-but-does-not-mention-taiwan. Such re-affirmations and promises are badly needed when the likes of Putin and Xi are holding our fragile planet for ransom. Hope Pelosi’s words set the tone for a great new beginning.