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Pelosi in Taiwan

Today, it is the challenger to the USA as a global power with a leadership unapologetic about throwing its weight around.

Statesman News Service |

It is being argued by those in the United States of America who backed House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan that it is a well thought out move in Washington’s geostrategic positioning as it braces for a more ambitious ~ and aggressive ~ Chinese foreign policy under an increasingly assertive President Xi Jinping. For, as the country prepares for 20th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the odds are in favour of President Xi emerging from it having secured an unprecedented third term in office. This would not only be a marked departure from precedent ~ Deng Xiaoping wrote a two-term limit into the country’s constitution in 1982 which was removed in 2018 by Mr Xi and his supporters ~ but opens up the possibility that the USA and its allies could have to deal with him well into the 2030s. President Xi is 69, in good health, has proven to be hardy, and has ensured his handpicked protégés control both the CCP and the crucial levers of the state. Enter, Ms Pelosi.

The view on her trip to Taiwan being pushed by her supporters in Washington is that it is a “bold assertion of principle”. After all, the most powerful country on the face of the earth is not Lithuania which was bullied by China for maintaining even innocent ties with its “renegade province”. Tiny Lithuania, with a population of under three million people, was in Beijing’s direct line of ire for allowing Taiwan to open an office in its capital Vilnius. Ms Pelosi has been threatened too ~ China followed up on its assertion that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “will not sit idly by” if she visits Taiwan by conducting live-fire exercises in the East China Sea which are expected to continue after her departure from the island. Taipei may be willing to live with it as obviously Washington has provided assurances that it won’t baulk or cut-and-run in the face of Chinese belligerence. The point is not whether Ms Pelosi has a right to settle her itinerary as she deems fit ~ her predecessor Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997 too. But the China of 25 years ago was a regional power.

Today, it is the challenger to the USA as a global power with a leadership unapologetic about throwing its weight around. Only the naïve would expect that Ms Pelosi’s trip will inspire others to stand up to a hegemonic China. In a sense, as The Economist notes, her trip is a symptom of America’s incoherent approach to China ~ a trip designed purportedly to convey strength risks instead showing up the Biden Administration’s confusion and lack of purpose. Because when all the hullabaloo has died down, Washington’s policy of so-called strategic ambiguity on whether it would come to Taiwan’s defence militarily in the event of Chinese aggression remains firmly in place while Beijing has made it clear that the reunification of the motherland is non-negotiable. The coming to fruition of “One China” is the legacy President Xi wants to leave behind; through negotiations if possible but without ruling out other options