Photo Credit: Taiwan Presidential Office
The recent arrival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan drew mixed reactions from world leaders, with China most affected by the visit.
China reacted promptly by broadcasting messages and demonstrations condemning the move by the United States. According to the Chinese authorities, Pelosi’s visit will have a “serious impact” on existing relations between the United States and China. In addition, China has expressed its intention to launch its “air and sea drills” and exercises around Taiwan in the coming days.
According to China, the visit is a “major political provocation” and an attack on Chinese sovereignty. It is the first time in 25 years that a senior US legislator has visited Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party has long claimed Taiwan as part of its territory.
Amid threats, Pelosi meets with Taiwanese officials
Despite Pelosi’s visit receiving repeated warnings from Chinese authorities, the delegation continued with its talks. In a “series of high-profile meetings,” Pelosi and other representatives met with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, and the legislature of the country.
According to Pelosi, their goal is to send an unmistakable message to the country that “America stands with Taiwan.”
“We want Taiwan to always have freedom with security, and we’re not backing away from that,” the Democrat from California said. Pelosi added that she had come to salute the Taiwanese for their courage in defending their country’s democracy despite pressure from their bigger neighbor.
According to analysts, although China has warned the US, Taiwan will take the brunt of China’s reprisal.
China reacts to Pelosi’s visit
China has clarified its condemnation of Taiwan and the United States by announcing the initiation of military proceedings across the country. The Eastern Theater Command and the Department of Defense said Tuesday they will begin a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation.”
The drills are clearly an intensified form of Beijing’s threat to Taiwan, far more so than before. In the official exercise map, analysts say activities are closer than before, also covering Taiwan’s territorial waters. The exercises will completely surround the island, including the lakes and areas of the Taiwan Strait.
China has “gone a lot farther than they ever have before,” said Carl Schuster, who previously worked at US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center and was a former US Navy captain.
“The geopolitical signal being sent is that China can close Taiwan’s air and sea access whenever it wants,” Schuster stated.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Taiwan’s defense ministry stated that China’s planned military actions would “threaten international waterway, challenge the international order, undermine cross-strait status quo, and endanger regional security.”
Crossing the “red line,” a bad sign for China?
While China has been quick to issue warnings to both Taiwan and the United States, it is clear that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a stumbling block for China, which had previously expressed its displeasure with Pelosi’s visit and stated that it crosses the “red line.”
Former editor-in-chief of a state-run nationalist tabloid, Global Times, said, “Pelosi landed in Taiwan, which of course reflects that our deterrent power is not enough to stop her early offensive.”
“But if you are very frustrated because of this, thinking that we have ‘lost’ and encountered a new ‘national humiliation,’ it’s a bit exaggerated then. Some individuals can think that way, but we must not have such a collective vulnerability,” the editor added.
Furthermore, the timing may be detrimental to Xi Jinping’s re-election bid in the upcoming 20th Congress.
According to the director of the China Program, Yun Sun, “The Chinese tried to use saber rattling and use the rhetorical war in order to deter Pelosi’s trip, and they went overboard with their threats.”
“Now Pelosi decided to have the trip, and that leaves the Chinese hanging because they can’t really deliver.”
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.