Scholar: Pelosi's Taiwan Visit to Deal Heavy Blow to US-China Ties, Inflict Damage on Taipei
13:10 GMT 02.08.2022 (Updated: 12:44 GMT 19.06.2023)
Taiwan-based media disclosed on August 2, that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit the island on Tuesday night and stay in Taipei overnight at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Xinyi district. The fate of the island, which Beijing sees as Chinese territory, is continuing to escalate.
"The actual intentions of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan are inevitably sophisticated," says Dr. Chang Ching, a research fellow from the Taiwan-based Society for Strategic Studies and a lead military expert on the People's Liberation Army and regional security in Taiwan.
"To acquire a historical reputation is the obvious factor identified by many politicians. Delivering political signals to Beijing can also be another reason. Attempting to shape the political developments in Taiwan has been accused by certain political commentators as well. Nonetheless, the Chinese media basically define her maneuver as an 'impulsively sneaky visit,' which is a term generally applied to those people who are defined as politically hostile to the Beijing regime visiting certain territories protested by the People’s Republic of China," Dr. Chang continued.
Pundits have speculated about the possibility of Pelosi visiting Taiwan and China's reaction since April 2022; Beijing has clearly demonstrated its fierce opposition to the high-profile visit. After her tour was canceled in the spring after the House speaker reportedly got COVID-19, the debate got its second wind in July.
Pelosi neither officially confirmed nor denied her intent to visit Taipei. Likewise, the White House tried to distance itself from the Democratic politician's trip to Taiwan, while at the same time arguing that such a tour is by no means "uncommon" and that the US "shouldn’t be intimidated by [China's] rhetoric or... potential actions."
"The worst indication reflected by Pelosi’s visit is the decline of the United States that no American politicians are willing to admit," says the Chinese scholar. "If Washington still keeps sufficient confidence to condition Beijing’s reactions to this issue, President Biden himself and his senior members of the government would not show their reluctance to support Pelosi’s visit. The differences between the executive branch and the legislative branch of the United States government on this visit are so clear to see."
Dr. Chang wonders why Pelosi chose to keep her Taiwan visit secret until the last moment. He notes that the House speaker cited "security concerns" over her travel plan.
"Actually, it is a matter of Pelosi’s integrity and also causing more speculations on the so-called American security commitments to Taiwan," says the scholar. "If the Speaker herself has no full confidence of security during her presence in Taiwan, how can people in Taiwan trust the United States is capable of supportive while Taiwan is in danger?"
According to Dr. Chang, China has long been very clear about its "red lines" with regard to Taiwan. Therefore, "certain serious consequences can be expected," he notes, ruling out, however, a "full scale invasion or other form of armed conflict."
The scholar points out that there are many measures available in Beijing's toolbox towards Taiwan for conditioning Taipei’s political maneuvers. What's more, the Taipei leadership is "well aware of how damaging [Pelosi's] visit can be" for the island, he adds.
"What can the possible consequences be? It all depends on how Taipei will react to those measures towards Taiwan," says Dr. Chang. "After all, it is literally an interactive process. It takes two to tango. Whether it will turn into a negative spiral or on the contrary to a positive spiral is not merely decided by Beijing. Taipei’s reactions are also important. Also, Beijing will not only try to condition Taipei like many western media [outlets] expected but also press Washington at the same time. The possibility of any mutual cooperation between Beijing and Washington on any global issues has basically vanished in the near future. The difficulties of reconciliation by these two powers will also increase dramatically."
All the aforementioned negative consequences will be unquestionably associated with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her ill-fated decision to visit Taiwan, according to the scholar.