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Comments: the U.S. House Speaker’s Visit to China’s Taiwan
Author:ST  Source:Centre for Strategic Thinking  Views:234 Updated:2022-08-04

The U.S. House Speaker Mrs. Nancy Pelosi yesterday just conducted a visit to China’s Taiwan province, which was the first time in 25 years by a highest ranking American official to step into Taiwan. Taiwan was one of the stops of her Asia tour. As scheduled, over the past few days, the House Speaker has already visited Singapore, Malaysian, and Taiwan, and the next two stops will be South Korea and Japan.

 

Given the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue in China-U.S. relations, Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has especially attracted a great deal of global attention. Though the visit to Taiwan didn’t appear in her officially announced time schedule, as generally believed, it was actually in her plan. Therefore, before leaving for her Asia trip, China, through various channels, had already expressed strong opposition to Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, and warned that her visit would seriously damage the relations between the two countries and between the militaries of the two states.

 

Some Taiwan local people delivered a strong message through street demonstrations to oppose Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. To prevent the House Speaker from coming to Taiwan, some even threatened to set bombs in Taiwan’s Taoyuan airport. Besides that, in order to avoid the worst scenario possibly taking place, according to certain media release, the Taiwan authority was intended to withdraw the invitation to Pelosi.

 

However, all the above concerns were dismissed by the U.S. House Speaker.

 

In the meantime, to better pay the way for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the U.S. President announced highly of the killing of the Al Queda leader. The U.S. Secretary of State also took a unilateral and subjective manner concerning Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan by warning China of not escalating the tension in the Taiwan Strait and in the region; otherwise, China should be responsible for all the possible consequences.

 

Then, what was behind Pelosi’s “brave” insistance of her trip to Taiwan? And how to understand the implications of it to the U.S.?

 

Pelosi’s trip to Asia happened against the background that the U.S. is facing a number of tough challenges both domestically and globally. Domestically, apart from the troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation, in recent months, the rising rate of domestic violent gun crimes, the issue related to the abortion right of women, as well as other range of domestic issues have challenged the public support rate to the Biden administration.

 

Internationally, the situation for the U.S. appears to be even worse. The U.S. House Speaker’s Asia tour took place in less than three weeks after the U.S. President just concluded his Middle East trip in July. The U.S. leadership expected, through his visit to the Middle East, to reaffirm the U.S. interest in that region, to find solutions to address the issues faced by Europe as a result of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, to show the U.S. strength in managing global challenges for further paving the way for the implementation of its Indo-Pacific strategy in the next steps. However, the U.S. President Middle East trip didn’t achieve what the U.S. anticipated. Also unfortunately, shortly after his trip to the Middle East, the President himself was tested COVID-19 positive.

 

In fact, since the U.S. President assumed office, the U.S. government has made numerous attempts to rally the support of the international community to the U.S. leadership through organizing a series of events with wider global impacts such as the Democracy Summit held in December last year, and the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit hosted in May this year and so on. Nevertheless, these set of activities haven’t so far helped to secure the impacts as the U.S. designed. More recently, as a result of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the U.S. has even lost the support of some of its allies and close partners.  

 

Due to all the above, the public support rate to the U.S. President, according to the latest polls collected among adult participants by FiveThirtyEight, was down to a point of around 37%. Obviously, the current domestic and international situation is very challenging for the U.S. government.

 

Over the past months, following the U.S. government having played a number of cards on issues related to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa etc., and given the impacts these have led so far, the U.S. urgently needs another big figure to take any “dramatic” means - if necessary - to rescue the growing challenging situation in the international stage faced by the U.S..

 

The Taiwan card can be strategically crucial for the U.S., given that the U.S. will attach great significance to the implementation of its Indo-Pacific strategy in the years ahead; and the Taiwan card is usually easy to play. Then, the U.S. House Speaker’s trip to Taiwan came into reality.

 

In her meeting with the Taiwan local leader, Mrs. Pelosi claimed that the U.S. will not abandon Taiwan, and her visit to Taiwan has proved that.  

 

Meanwhile, certain American media reported highly of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, emphasized that Mrs. Pelosi is the most powerful American woman, and took the fact of not shooting down the House speaker’s airplane by the Chinese military as a “victory” of the U.S.. After all, the safe landing of Mrs. Pelosi’s plane in Taiwan appeared to have immediately rekindled a sense of glory of “Americanism” and of “Hegemonism” among some. It is not surprising that certain people would take the House Speaker’s provocative trip to Taiwan as a way of re-claiming the U.S. strength.

 

The U.S. leadership ever pledged that the U.S. would seek to lead through soft power, values, and real strength. Nevertheless, nowadays, in order to save the U.S. face at the international stage, the U.S. has already started to make a great deal of efforts in generating symbols and in staging shows. The question raised in the meantime is that the kinds of symbols, shows, and “dramatic” means are an indication of American strength or weakness?

 

Not shooting down Mrs. Pelosi’s aircraft partly showed that China took “humanity” as something grand. By not doing that, China gained a high moral ground. It also rightly showed China’s intent to manage China-U.S. relations in the 21st century in a responsible manner. On the contrary, the irresponsible attitude of the U.S. has once again put the U.S. in a challenging position from the moral perspective.

 

Mrs. Pelosi, as a highly experienced American official, and in her high ranking position, should have understood perfectly that, on the issue related to Taiwan, she wasn’t dealing with a personal/private matter; she was managing a very sensitive public matter concerning the relations between two great powers and beyond in international relations. There could be a fundamental difference in the way of managing a public matter and a personal issue. The kind of irresponsible attitude and behaviour once again damaged the U.S. credibility and soft power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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