Sunday, May 28, 2023

Why so much uproar over Nancy Pelosi’s possible trip to Taiwan?

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not confirm when she would or would not want to travel to Taiwan. Yet such is the sensitivity on the status of the island that reports of her possible visit have resulted in warnings of “serious consequences” by China and a suggestion by President Joe Biden that the visit “wasn’t a good idea.” Taiwan is conducting military exercises amid rhetoric and heightened tension.

These comments follow a report in the Financial Times that Pelosi planned to take a delegation to Taiwan in August. The outlet based its report on six people “familiar with the situation”; Pelosi’s spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny the alleged visit.

As someone who has long studied America’s delicate diplomatic dance over Taiwan, I understand why this alleged visit has sparked a backlash in both Washington and Beijing given the current tensions in the region. It also marks the continuation of a process in which US political engagement with Taiwan is increasing – much to China’s annoyance.

cut diplomatic ties

The controversy over reports of Pelosi’s possible visit stems from the “one China” policy – the diplomatic stance under which the US recognizes China and accepts Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China. The policy has governed US relations with Taiwan for more than 40 years.

In 1979, the US abandoned its previous policy of recognizing the government of Taiwan as a whole of China, instead recognizing the government on the mainland.

As part of this change, the US cut off formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, with the US Embassy in Taiwan being replaced by a non-governmental entity called the American Institute in Taiwan.

The institute was a de facto embassy – although by 2002, Americans assigned to the institute would have to resign from the US State Department to move there, only to be reassigned after their term ended. And the contact between the two governments was technically informal.

As the government in Taiwan pursued democracy – from the lifting of martial law in 1987 to the first fully democratic elections in 1996 – it moved away from the notion of reunification with the mainland by governments in both China and Taiwan. However, the government in China never abandoned the idea of ​​”one China” and rejected the legitimacy of Taiwan’s self-government. This has made direct contact between Taiwan and US representatives controversial for Chinese officials.

Indeed, in 1995, when Taiwan’s first democratically elected President Lee Teng-hui touched down on his way to Central America in Hawaii, he didn’t even set foot on the tarmac. The US State Department had previously warned that the president would be denied an entry visa into the US, but allowed a brief, low-level reception in an airport lounge while refueling. Apparently feeling cheated, Lee refused to leave the plane.

past political trips

Two years after the incident, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan.

Similarly to a possible Pelosi visit, the visit by Gingrich angered Beijing. But it was easy for the White House to distance itself from Gingrich—he was a Republican politician visiting Taiwan in his capacity, and clearly not on behalf of then-President Bill Clinton.

Pelosi’s possible visit could be different, as she is a member of the same party as President Joe Biden, and China may believe she has Biden’s blessing, despite her comments to the contrary.

When asked on July 20 about his thoughts on a possible Pelosi visit, Biden replied that “the military just doesn’t think it’s a good idea right now.”

The remarks echo an earlier handling of Biden’s remarks by the White House in which he suggested in May 2022 that the US would intervene “militarily” if China invaded Taiwan. Biden administration officials withdrew remarks that would have broken a long-standing policy of ambiguity over what the US would do if China tried to take Taiwan by force.

Similarly, as with Pelosi, the White House is distancing itself from a position that suggests a change in US-Taiwan relations after a period in which the US was already trying to think it was Taiwan. How does it interact with.

Shifting Policy?

In 2018, Congress passed the bipartisan Taiwan Travel Act. This departed from a previous policy in which it permitted bilateral official visits between the US and Taiwan, although they are still considered sub-diplomatic.

In the wake of that act, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan since 1979. Then in 2020, Keith Krach, Under Secretary for Economic Development, Energy and Environment, visited Taiwan.

And in April 2022, a US congressional delegation visited Taiwan. Pelosi herself was reportedly scheduled to visit the island in the same month, but was canceled after testing positive for COVID-19.

Each of these visits has provoked angry statements from Beijing.

A high-profile visit – even without the public backing of the White House – would signal support to the island at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the international community to protect smaller states from more powerful neighbors. questions about its commitment.

Meanwhile, the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong has undermined China’s commitment to the idea of ​​”one nation, two systems”. The doctrine, which allowed Hong Kong to maintain its economic, political and social order while returning to the mainland after the end of British rule, was cited as a model for reunification with Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party is also planning to hold its 20th Congress in the coming months, making the time sensitive for the visit of a high-profile American political figure like Pelosi to Taiwan.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
Latest news
Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here