Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan: Another Round of Tensions

After weeks of speculations, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, arrived in Taipei on Tuesday with her congressional delegation, defying China’s repeated warnings against the contentious visit. This marks the highest-ranking US official visit to Taiwan in more than two decades. Last time, in 1997, a US House speaker visited Taipei in a show of solidarity and support for the self-ruling democracy after the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis. The visit by Pelosi came at a time when the world is already witnessing the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War and its far-reaching economic and political ramifications. As China claims the self-ruling island as a “renegade province” and intends to reintegrate it into the mainland, the visit has raised concerns and raised the question of what could be the immediate and long-term consequences of Pelosi’s visit to the island. Would the world witness yet another episode of war as a result of an intensifying rivalry between the two major powers?

Taiwan has been a flashpoint of China-US rivalry as China deems the island an inseparable part of its territory and the US continues to support Taiwan`s independence and promote its strategic objective in the region. Recent years have seen renewed attempts by the two powers to extend their spheres of influence across the Taiwan Strait and achieve foreign policy goals. China has initiated its renewed influence operations, coupled with a ramping up of military exercises across the Taiwan Strait. In the meantime, the US has enhanced its solidarity efforts with Taiwan. In a show of support for the Island in the face of growing Chinese pressure, a group of six U.S. lawmakers paid an unannounced visit to Taiwan earlier this year, followed by Pelosi’s one-day visit on Tuesday. 

Nancy Pelosi, the third highest-ranking official in the US administration, visit to Taiwan is a move which could seriously undermine already strained China-US relations. Before the visit, China repeatedly warned and cautioned the US about the serious consequences of the visit. China`s foreign ministry, on July 25, warned that the visit by US high officials to Taiwan would trigger serious consequences. This was followed by the much-anticipated phone conversation between the US President Biden and the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which the Chinese premier cautioned the US against the potential visit. On Aug. 1, China`s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, termed Pelosi’s visit as provocative by saying that “it would be met with firm and strong measures to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity”. In response to the visit, China announced to suspend trade ties with Taiwan and began an unprecedented military drill at sea near Taiwan on Thursday. These exercises are aimed at demonstrating its determination to defend its “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” thus raising fears of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

The US has continued to display support for the self-ruling island that China deems as a part of its territory. Pelosi`s visit represents Washington’s growing diplomatic and military support to Taiwan which could turn the current Sino-US rivalry into a major military confrontation, thereby profoundly affecting global peace and stability. The world is already experiencing the far-reaching political and economic impacts of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and cannot bear the brunt of yet another war that could trigger even more serious consequences. The US commitment to Taiwan and its continued support has made the region the new theatre of war, with serious ramifications for the regional countries. The current tensions raised after Pelosi’s visit could have much wider economic and political implications for the region as well as for the world. There are growing concerns that in the coming weeks the world may see an intensification in the current rivalry between the United States and China, with many believing that the current high official visit could trigger even a larger-scale military confrontation.

[總統府, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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