The Speaker of the US House of Representatives has arrived in Taiwan, generating mixed reactions in Taipei, Beijing, and even Washington.
Latinamerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
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Veteran US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Taipei, Taiwan, in her capacity as Leader of the US House of Representatives. For China, which has raised its claims on the island in the last decade, it represents a challenge to its interests and also a break with US foreign policy towards the island.
Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan
In a surprise visit, Taipei has received the president of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, a historical opponent of the Chinese regime who has taken advantage of a new opportunity to show her discontent with the Asian giant. Pelosi was received by the Taiwanese foreign minister, and the plan is to meet with the country's president.
The diplomatic problem between China and the United States has been escalating little by little for a few weeks, when Pelosi's intention to visit the island on her tour of Asia became known. Beijing warned that if carried out, the visit would represent a challenge and even a humiliation to the Chinese people, as its ambassador to the United States assured.
Nancy Pelosi is an experienced politician who knows perfectly well the scope of her visit to Taiwan, even more so at a time when her country's relations with China are not the best. However, with her visit, the Democrat hopes to give a boost to the island, which maintains a democratic government that is at odds with China, a regime that the United States considers the antithesis of democracy. The big concern is that the congresswoman puts US policy on Taiwan in check. The Americans do not recognize the independence of the island, but they do not really recognize it as part of China either. The solution, a middle ground: the “one China” policy that only recognizes that the Asian giant has a claim on Taiwan, not that it still belongs to it, a limbo that has allowed a relatively stable relationship for decades.
Nancy Pelosi is an old rival of the Chinese regime. She has been a constant denouncer of what she considers Chinese abuses of democracy and has even raised her voice at times like the Tiananmen massacre, carrying a protest banner to the same square of the actions. Her current visit is a way of endorsing that activism against China. Similarly, internationally, the United States could not afford to give in to pressure and threats from Beijing, it would have been a bad sign for its image. Pelosi's challenge to China could further strain relations, but hardly escalate to a higher level involving conflict.
The Reactions of Washington, Beijing, and the World
The Congress and the Executive of the United States act independently, Pelosi's visit was not conditioned to any strategy or directive of the country's presidency. Thus, Joe Biden and his administration distanced themselves from the visit in the sense that it was carried out as an act of Congress. What they did clarify is that Pelosi's visit would be carried out in accordance with the 1979 Taiwan Law, which bases the relationship with the island and indirectly with China. In previous days, Biden commented that his military advisers did not find the visit relevant. However, the decision seemed to be made. With Pelosi in Taiwan, the financial markets responded negatively to the uncertainty of the Chinese response.
Beijing tried to persuade Pelosi to visit Taiwan, through statements by its ambassador, as well as by senior officials, who commented that it would be a negative thing that would have consequences for the relationship between the two countries. During the visit, China carried out military exercises in the strait that separates the island from the mainland and has kept its army on high alert. Despite the overwhelming response, Pelosi has undoubtedly budgeted for it in her strategy. His neighbors also commented on it. Moscow, in line with Beijing, has described the visit as a frank provocation to China, which is surrounded by US positions in Asia-Pacific, especially in South Korea and Japan, which makes Taiwan a strategic enclave for both sides.
Taiwan is China?
After the Chinese Revolution of 1949 and with the rise of communism to power, the opponents managed to flee to the former island of Formosa (today Taiwan), the place from where they established the Republic of China that, at first, planned to return to the power on the continent. The reality was different, the power of the People's Republic of China grew and little by little various States in the world withdrew their recognition and support for the island to establish relations with mainland China. The roles changed, the communist government claimed the sovereignty of the island as an integral part of its territory, a situation not yet fully resolved, because although the United States broke relations with Taiwan to establish them with China, it did not leave the territory to its fate. The US Congress promoted the Taiwan Law that advocates a peaceful resolution of the island's destiny, as well as support in defense issues whose ambiguity is the one in which US policy towards Taiwan unfolds.
Nancy Pelosi's visit seems like a small light in the dark for Taiwan, since it reaffirms the commitment that the United States has by law with the island in the face of any attempt by China to change its status in a non-peaceful way. However, testing China's limits might not be the best strategy. It is unclear how far the United States is willing to go in the face of any move by the communist government on the island. Direct confrontation is a distant reality, the closest scenario could be that of Ukraine and Russia, where, despite the moral, military and economic support of the United States, the Ukrainians have borne the brunt and the conflict still has no date of expiration.