How Pelosi’s Asian tour strained U.S.-China relations

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has begun an Asian tour, during which she may visit Taiwan. The trip takes place against the background of military threats from China and the aggravation of relations between Washington and Beijing =”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Nancy Pelosi

How Pelosi's visit to the Pacific is coming along

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi began her tour of East Asia on Saturday. As part of the trip, she is expected to visit Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea. A visit to partially recognized Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, is questionable.

Pelosi planned to visit Taiwan back in April, but postponed the trip indefinitely due to the fact that she became ill with the coronavirus. Officially, the speaker of the House of Representatives did not declare her intention to make a stop in Taipei, citing security issues, but did not deny such a possibility. If the visit goes ahead, Pelosi will be the first sitting speaker of the US House of Representatives to visit Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997.

The US does not officially recognize Taiwanese independence and maintains a so-called “one China policy” but maintains strong trade relations with Taipei. For Pelosi, the current tour could be the last foreign trip of his career. The 82-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives is preparing to retire this fall. At the same time, the politician is known for her uncompromising position towards Beijing, and a visit to the capital of Taiwan could be the culmination of her efforts in this direction. It is symbolic that a potential visit to Taiwan by the third most important politician in the United States is scheduled on the eve of the annual holiday of the People's Liberation Army of China, which is celebrated on August 1.

According to Politico, Pelosi's visit to Taipei had not been conclusively confirmed as of Friday, but the Pentagon continued to prepare for it. The fact that the visit is in doubt, NBC sources also reported. The Taiwanese capital was supposed to be Pelosi's first stop on his Pacific tour. On Saturday afternoon Moscow time, a US Air Force Boeing C-40C with registration number 09-0540, on which Pelosi was believed to be, took off from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and headed for the Pacific Ocean. The Flightradar24 service did not indicate the final destination of the flight. A record number of people followed its course with the help of the service: by 16:00 Moscow time, more than 100 thousand people were watching the flight. As a result, the US Air Force plane landed in the capital of the state of Hawaii, the city of Honolulu. The Flightradar24 service made further movements of the board unavailable for viewing.

How China reacted to Pelosi's plans to visit Taiwan

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instructionsAfter the first reports appeared about a possible visit of Pelosi to Taiwan in China, they condemned him. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said such a visit would “seriously undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously affect the foundation of Sino-US relations, and send the wrong signal to Taiwan's independence forces.” Beijing also announced its readiness to take retaliatory measures.

Later, the Chinese Ministry of Defense made it clear about the nature of the response: “If the United States insists on its own course, the Chinese military will never sit idly by,” & mdash; the department said. In turn, US President Joe Biden, commenting on Pelosi's plans to visit Taiwan, said that, according to the US military, this trip now “does not seem like a good idea,” noting that he does not know what its status is. At the same time, Biden did not urge Pelosi to give it up.

Later, Beijing's rhetoric towards Washington became tougher. The Financial Times, citing sources, said China privately warned the Biden administration about the possible military implications of Pelosi's decision to visit Taiwan. These threats were more significant than those that came from the Chinese side before. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has publicly stated that the consequences of Pelosi's visit will be the responsibility of the United States.

According to CNN, Washington tried to explain to Pelosi the risks of such a trip. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan opposed her visit. As a result, on July 28, a telephone conversation took place between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which lasted more than two hours. According to Chinese reports, Xi told Biden that the US should abide by its “one China policy,” adding, “Those who play with fire will end up getting burned.”

In turn, Biden assured his counterpart that the United States is not deviating from its position on adhering to the “one China policy.” On the day of the start of Pelosi's big tour, Beijing began a live-fire exercise in the waters of the eastern province of Fujian, which is shared by the strait with Taiwan. The United States has also increased its naval presence in the region.

Could Pelosi's visit to Taiwan lead to a military conflict between the United States and China

Over the past 70 years, there have been three major crises between China, Taiwan and the United States, the last of them — in 1995–1996. Then China and the United States undertook a series of naval maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait zone. According to Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, Pelosi's visit to Taiwan could provoke a new crisis, similar to the events of those years. At the same time, the expert notes that China's military power has increased significantly over the past 26 years. Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, agrees with him, according to whom “China will respond with unprecedented countermeasures” the strongest it has ever hosted since the Taiwan Strait crisis.

Director of the Asian Marshall Fund Asia Program Bonnie Glaser, a former China consultant for the US Department of Defense and State Department, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that Pelosi's visit could be a “dangerous gamble.” According to the expert, none of the parties wants a military conflict, but in the current situation there is a risk of its occurrence. Xi Jinping is preparing to run for a third term at the head of China in the autumn and cannot show his weakness under these conditions. Beijing also believes that the United States is moving away from its policy towards Taiwan and may soon recognize its independence. This is facilitated by the preparation of amendments to the Law on Relations with Taiwan, which determines US policy, as well as a number of Biden's statements about the readiness to provide military assistance to the island, which were later adjusted by the US presidential administration.

Authors Tags Persons

Joseph Biden

Politician, US President

November 20, 1942

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