Nancy Pelosi’s tour of Asia may have come to an end, but the pulse between the United States and China over Taiwan it has only just begun. On Friday, the president of the US House of Representatives left Japan, the last stop on a trip that has kept the entire world on edge for days and whose consequences begin to surface in the form of sanctions and military maneuvers.
His visit to the island of Taiwan, a State de facto that China claims as its own, has opened the box of thunder. It was predictable: Beijing had already warned its main competitor that he was “playing with fire” and that his army was not going to stay “dand crossed arms before a trip that he considers an attack on his “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The White House also notified Pelosi, veteran critic of the Chinese regime, that his plan to go to Taipei was neither a good idea nor a good time. The leader of the Legislative Power turned a deaf ear and, without warning her, on Wednesday night she landed at the island’s airport, thus contradicting the foreign policy set by President Biden.
Against Biden’s policy
For some international analysts, that is precisely what has happened with Pelosi’s trip: it has jeopardized the strategy that the Biden Administration has been building for months to strengthen economic and diplomatic alliances with its partners in Asia to counter China.
In June, for example, the leaders of the four countries in the Asia-Pacific region (South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia) participated for the first time (and at the invitation of the US) in the NATO Summit. A meeting in which, in fact, China was considered “a new challenge” in the Strategic Concept.
[China no sólo es un rival militar para la OTAN: así pretende Pekín “subvertir el orden mundial”]
Intentionally or not, Pelosi’s visit has shown the power of China and diminished the role of allies in the region. New York TimesSeong-Hyon Lee, a fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
And it is that the Asian giant has responded to the support of the US legislator to “a Taiwan’s vibrant democracy“with unprecedented military maneuvers that have frightened neighboring countries. Suffice it to remember that the South Korean president did not receive Pelosi upon her arrival in the country and limited the meeting to a phone call because “he was on vacation.”
The Japanese government, for its part, warned on Thursday that five Chinese ballistic missiles had fallen into waters belonging to its special economic zone (EEZ). An incident that has done nothing but aggravate tensions between Tokyo and Beijingstrained for months by the increase in Chinese naval military activities around areas such as the Senkaku Islands, administered by Japan, but also claimed by China.
How could it be otherwise, Taiwan is the territory that is suffering the most from the wrath of the Asian giant. Besieged by sea and water until On Sunday, shots were heard on the island and columns of smoke were seen as a result of the impact of missiles fired during Chinese maneuvers.
The answer, however, not limited to the military: The Chinese Customs Administration announced on Wednesday the imposition of sanctions trades that affect some products, such as sand, citrus or some types of fish from the island.
On a large scale, the Xi Jinping government has also punished Washington by cutting off all kinds of cooperation on immigration, climate change and police cooperation.
[China rompe con EEUU en materia de inmigración, cambio climático y cooperación policial]
Pelosi, why now?
There are those who fear that what is practically a diplomatic crisis will lead to a military confrontation between China, Taiwan and the United States. Especially since the Asian giant has been watching the development of the war in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. More than five months in which the great nuclear power of Asia has increased its military presence in the sea of the Taiwan Strait.
Given this scenario, the question arises why Pelosi he has decided to stand up to China in this way now, when tension levels are through the roof.
She herself has tried to justify her trip – her first high-level trip in 25 years – in an article published in Washington Post.
The trip could be the culmination of a political career of more than 30 years as an opponent of the Chinese regime.
“In the face of accelerating aggression from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the visit by our congressional delegation should be seen as an unequivocal statement that the United States stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, while defending itself and its freedom,” point out the policy.
However, there are those behind the trip who see the culmination of a political career of more than 30 years as an opponent of the Chinese regime. an “obsession” that started after the tiananmen massacre in 1989 and on which she wants to influence before the next legislative elections in November and which could be the last for this 82-year-old Democrat.
At that time, Pelosi had only been a member of the US House of Representatives for two years, but the Chinese government’s brutal repression against students who demanded greater freedoms and the end of corruption in the country deeply affected politics.
Hence, in 1991, he stood in the middle of Tiananmen Square and unfurled a banner in protest where one could read: “In memory of those who died for democracy in China“. Previously, the politician received in the Capitol the leader of the movement in favor of democracy in China, Chai Ling.
Since then, the Xi Jinping regime has considered her a person non gratawhich has not prevented him from continuing his criticism of the human rights violations taking place in the country.
One of its main battles has been based on getting the release of activists and captive journalists in China and Tibet. Without going any further, in 2002 he tried to deliver to the then Chinese vice president, Hu Jintao, four letters asking him to release the country’s political prisoners. He was unsuccessful and tried again years later.
In 1991, Pelosi unfurled a banner “in memory of those who died for democracy” at Tiananmen.
Also, for more than two decades, the Democrat has opposed the celebration of the Olympic Games held in Beijing. In 2008 asked to boycott the opening ceremony of the competition. A proposal that has been repeated over and over again. The last one, in 2021, when he criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for turning a blind eye to the PCC.
“As the Winter Olympics begin, the Chinese government will once again attempt to distract the world from a decades-long campaign of abuse and repression. But the United States and the international community know the truth: the People’s Republic of China is waging a campaign of serious human rights violations, including genocide,” he said in relation to the attacks against the Uyghur Muslim population.
28 years ago, we traveled to Tiananmen Square to honor the courage & sacrifice of the students, workers & ordinary citizens who stood for the dignity & human rights that all people deserve. To this day, we remain committed to sharing their story with the world. #Tiananmen30 pic.twitter.com/7UqiJVRS3t
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 4, 2019
His objections, however, are not directed at the Chinese people, but at his “repressive government”, he reiterated. This has led her to undertake numerous legislative initiatives to penalize it. In 2019, for example, she helped pass a bipartisan law imposing sanctions on Chinese officials linked to human rights abuses.
This time, however, the consequences of Pelosi’s fight have been heard around the world. And there are those who fear that what is already a kind of diplomatic crisis will lead to a military attack, as has already happened on at least three occasions.
Towards a fourth crisis in Taiwan
The first happened in 1954, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists (who were expelled by Mao Zedong and took refuge in Taiwan after the Chinese civil war) deployed hundreds of soldiers to Kinmen and Matsu, two small islands off the mainland.
Communist China, an ally of the Soviet Union, responded with artillery bombardments of the archipelago and seized the Yijiangshan Islands, north of Taiwan, then known as the Republic of China. Fearing that the communists would get consolidate its influence in AsiaWashington signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with Taipei.
[El arsenal que China ha desplazado hacia Taiwán: cazas, aviones espías y barcos de guerra]
A nuclear threat The US forced a ceasefire, although the conflict remained latent and erupted again in a second crisis in 1958. That year, Mao again bombed the islands of Kinmen and Matsu to try to dislodge the nationalist troops again.
In 1979, the US passed the Taiwan Relations Act, committing itself to support the island in matters of defense
The United States, under Dwight Eisenhower, intervened again, supplied the island troops, drew the nuclear threat card again and got a temporary cessation of hostilities.
The conflict cooled down in 1979, when the White House established diplomatic relations with the Chinese regime and took the opportunity to approve the Taiwan Relations Law. A commitment in force today by which the US can support the defense of the island. This norm has served for decades to dissuade China from annexing the territory by force and Taiwan from unilaterally declaring independence.
The third great crisis was provoked in 1995 by the then Taiwanese president, Lee Teng-hui, when he visited Cornell University in New York. A decision that China took as a betrayal of its concept of “one china“-by which diplomatic relations can only be established with Beijing- and which he took the opportunity to start testing missiles in the waters of the Taiwan Strait.