The relationship between Beijing and Washington will surely reach a new low as a result of Pelosi’s journey to Taiwan. Here’s how China may avenge Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
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On Tuesday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducted an unannounced but much anticipated visit to Taiwan, bringing US-China ties to a new low. Amid repeated warnings from other senior Washington officials, Pelosi has emerged as the highest-ranking US politician to travel to the island in 25 years — although the situation is significantly different today than it was then.
First, it is important to acknowledge the significance of this decision. It is not a significant deal for the US. Congressmen from various Western nations, not only the US, routinely visit Taiwan. It is additionally regarded as distinct from official US government policy due to the separation of the legislative from the executive branches of government, which is in charge of implementing foreign policy.
In fact, Pelosi tweeted about this as soon as she arrived on the island. “Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, US-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances,” she said.
China, however, does not concur. And the reason for it is that things have changed significantly since Newt Gingrich, the then-house speaker, visited Taipei 25 years ago. This is mainly because the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which was in power at the time, continued to support the the policy of “One China,” a 1992 Consensus achieved by the National Unification Council of the Republic of China (official title for what Westerners refer to as Taiwan).
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It is important to briefly recall how Taiwan came to be as we know it. It was established during the Chinese Civil War, when the KMT’s forces were ousted by Communist Party of China-led forces, forcing them to flee to Taiwan. The pre-communist government’s shattered remains are the Republic of China.
That is why, in 1992, the ROC acknowledged itself as the lawful government of all of China, rather than the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It considered itself as an exiled government. However, the mainland, for example, the PRC, accepted this statement since it acknowledged that there is only one China and also that Taiwan is a member of it.
Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader of Taiwan, did not vehemently challenge the prevailing 1992 Consensus until 2019. At that point, things took a turn, and Beijing began to allude to the DPP-led Taiwanese administration as “Taiwan independence forces.” At around this point, a distinct “Taiwanese” identity started to take shape..
Therefore, Pelosi’s visit is perceived as an assault on China’s national sovereignty, whereas Gingrich’s visit was not viewed as an endorsement of separatist forces since the ruling KMT saw themselves as the illegitimate rulers of China. Additionally, China interprets the administration’s actions as tacit approval of this infringement of its sovereignty.
First off, Pelosi traveled to Taipei aboard a jet that belonged to the US government, indicating that Washington and Taipei have official ties. According to estimates, this trip will cost US taxpayers almost $90 million. As part of its commitment to “One China,” the US has promised to solely keep informal connections with Taiwan.
Additionally, the US military, which is part of the administration, reportedly prepared plans to safeguard Pelosi’s plane in the case of an emergency. To top it all off, Pelosi and US President Joe Biden are both part of the same political party. This just serves to emphasize China’s assertion that the administration backs Pelosi’s actions.
The relationship between Beijing and Washington will surely reach a new low as a result of Pelosi’s journey to Taiwan. “The Taiwan question is the most important and most sensitive issue at the very heart of China-US relations. The Taiwan Strait is facing a new round of tensions and severe challenges, and the fundamental cause is the repeated moves by the Taiwan authorities and the United States to change the status quo,” an official statement by China’s Foreign Ministry says.
How things go forward from here is the question at hand. Already, things are about to get heated. Due to rumors of Pelosi’s visit, flights in the nearby Chinese province of Fujian were suspended, a DDoS attack from abroad targeted Taiwan’s presidential office, and a bomb threat was even received to Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. Since then, China has announced a massive military exercise from August 4–7 that nearly surrounds Taiwan’s whole island and enters Taiwan’s territorial waters.
The US does not seem to have anything planned beyond military drills and diplomatic comments, and Beijing also does not seem inclined to respond in an unexpected or hasty manner to Pelosi’s visit. Hu Xijin of the Global Times and other Chinese nationalist writers have speculated swift military responses, however this appears unlikely.
Retribution is said to be a dish that tastes best when served cold. And China undoubtedly has plenty of time on its hands to sit back and wait for the right moment to react. As Chinese critics have noted, this most recent action could certainly speed the eventual reunification. There are internal political dynamics that support this as well, with President Xi Jinping seeking to solidify his legacy as one of China’s legendary leaders and popular opinion on the mainland strongly in favor of bringing Taiwan back into Beijing’s orbit.
He will seek reelection to a third term as general secretary of the Communist Party of China at the 20th National Congress of the party in the second half of 2022. He may also run for election to the chairmanship of the party, which Mao Zedong most notably held before it was abolished in 1982. He would undoubtedly rank among the most significant Chinese leaders in history if the country were to be reunited, effectively ending the Chinese Civil War.
China’s retaliation against the primary perpetrator, Washington, will probably take place in the economic and commercial areas, where it truly stings as well as where the US is presently experiencing the most instability. The US and China’s supply chains are intimately connected, and their prolonged trade spat has already had a significant impact on inflation.
With the stroke of a pen, Chinese leaders might drastically alter the US economy, increase inflation, and force Biden’s Democrats out of power in this year’s midterm elections, which would also result in Nancy Pelosi losing her position as speaker. Nobody can predict how events will turn out.