Photo Credit: Taiwan Presidential Office
World leaders reacted differently to the recent visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, with China being the most disturbed.
China swiftly reacted by denouncing the US action with messages and public displays. Chinese officials claim that Pelosi’s visit will have a “serious impact” on the current US-China relations. In addition, China has stated that it will begin drills and “air and sea exercises” near the vicinity of Taiwan within days.
According to China, the visit is a “serious political provocation” and an assault on its sovereignty. It is the first time in 25 years that a senior US lawmaker has traveled to Taiwan. Taiwan has long been a point of contention for the Chinese Communist Party – claiming it as part of its territory.
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The US is with Taiwan
The delegation continued with the sessions despite repeated warnings from Chinese authorities regarding Pelosi’s arrival. Pelosi and other representatives met with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, and the legislature of the country for a series of high-profile talks.
They want to convey an “unequivocal statement” that “America stands with Taiwan,” according to Pelosi.
The California Democrat stated, “We want Taiwan to always have freedom with security, and we’re not backing away from that.” She continued by praising the Taiwanese for their bravery in defending democracy in their nation in the face of pressure from its neighbor.
Analysts predicted that while China warned America, Taiwan would suffer more from China’s retaliation.
China to start its military activities and drills
By announcing the beginning of their military operations across the nation, China has made it obvious to Taiwan and the US that they are opposed to Pelosi’s visitation. Tuesday saw the start of a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation,” described by the Eastern Theater Command and the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
The exercises clearly represent an escalated version of Beijing’s threat to Taiwan, much more so than before. According to the official map of the exercises, the activities are closer than ever before and even cover Taiwan’s territorial waters. The drills will completely encircle the island, including the lakes and zones in the Taiwan Strait.
Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain who previously worked at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Center Intelligence, claimed that China had “gone a lot farther than they ever have before.”
“The geopolitical signal being sent is that China can close Taiwan’s air and sea access whenever it wants,” added Schuster.
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The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said in a press conference on Wednesday that China’s military activities would “threaten international waterways, challenge international order, undermine cross-strait status quo, and endanger regional security.”
A hiccup for Beijing
China has been quick to provide warnings to Taiwan and the US, but it is obvious that Pelosi’s travel to Taiwan has caused them some trouble. China had previously expressed its displeasure with Pelosi’s visit and said that it violates the “red line.”
Former editor-in-chief of Global Times, a state-run nationalist tabloid, Hu Xijin, said, “Pelosi landed in Taiwan, which of course reflects that our deterrent power is not enough to stop her early offensive.”
“But if you are very frustrated because of this, thinking that we have ‘lost’ and encountered a new ‘national humiliation,’ it’s a bit exaggerated then. Some individuals can think that way, but we must not have such a collective vulnerability,” expressed the editor.
The timing may also not be favorable for Xi Jinping’s campaign for reelection in the next 20th Congress.
“The Chinese tried to use saber rattling and use the rhetorical war in order to deter Pelosi’s trip, and they went overboard with their threats,” said Yun Sun, the director of the China Program.
“Now Pelosi decided to have the trip, and that leaves the Chinese hanging because they can’t really deliver.”