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How Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit Helped China Score Major Geopolitical Victory

© AP Photo / Andy WongIn this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the office buildings in Shanghai, China.
In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the office buildings in Shanghai, China.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.08.2022
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi completed her controversial trip to Taiwan on August 3 amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing. Pelosi has become the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the island, which is seen by China as its sovereign territory.
"Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a symbolic move in the context of a war for geopolitical advantage," says Joseph Oliver Boyd-Barrett, a professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University. "Her critics, not unreasonably, decry it as a gesture that might carry very painful consequences for the world and for the human species."
Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei on August 2 in defiance of Beijing's protests. The US House speaker had kept her trip to the island secret until the very last moment. However, the American and Taiwanese press extensively speculated about her visit with the White House signaling that there would be nothing "uncommon" if Pelosi decided to arrive in Taipei.
Prior to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, President Biden held talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and expressed his commitment to the "One China principle." In response, Xi Jinping warned the US president about the possible negative consequences of Pelosi's visit. Nonetheless, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated on August 1 that the US "shouldn’t be intimidated by [China's] rhetoric or... potential actions."
The way, in which the White House handled Pelosi's controversial visit, "speaks volumes about the incompetence of the US government from top to bottom," believes US investigative journalist and author Daniel Lazare.
"Biden could have put a stop to this nonsense any time he wanted to," says Lazare. "He could have issued a public appeal not to go, which, if strong enough, would have essentially left the speaker with no choice. He could have taken away her military plane. He could have ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to reverse course in order to show that the last thing he wants is some sort of confrontation. But he did none of those things. Instead, he clung to the fiction that it was her call and that the Chinese have no right to get upset, which couldn't be more absurd."
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Pelosi's Visit Inflicted Damage on US, Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi and the White House's snub of China's warnings won't give any boost to the US image, quite the contrary, warn the observers. According to Lazare, the latest incident is "going to undermine [the US] position all the more by (indicating) just how unreliable a world leader he really is."
"[US] President [Joe] Biden, citing his own military, is said to have disapproved of the visit," explains Boyd-Barrett. "That he presents himself to the world as a leader who cannot reign in the country’s No. 3, or who lacks the authority to simply instruct the commanders of Pelosi’s military escorts to damn well turn back, with Pelosi inside a cage if needs be, seals his image as either hopelessly weak or shamefully complicit in some filthy maneuver. Either one of these is extremely unlikely to be to the advantage of anyone in the US who is not a part of the neocon cabal that dominates US foreign policy."
Make no mistake, China has perceived the House speaker's trip to Taiwan as a sheer provocation, the professor continued, adding that Beijing's position is "entirely understandable in the wake of many factors." These factors include Trump's tariff war with China; the US military encirclement of the People's Republic; Washington's Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea; as well as US "hostility to China’s [Belt-and-Road] global economic clout," according to the professor.
"To these bones of contention must now be added China’s ever-tightening relationship to Russia, its importance as an ally to Russia in opposition to NATO’s provoked war with Russia over Ukraine, and its role as an important sanctions-busting consumer of Russian oil and gas," he notes.
While the high-ranking US official's Taiwanese trip has already dealt a heavy blow to US-China relations, it may also backfire on Taiwan, warns the academic.
"Taiwan’s neoliberal elite may take some comfort in their close relations with the US and the military aid that it represents," says Boyd-Barrett. "Others will be more doubtful, especially those many Taiwanese whose prosperity depends on business and trade with the mainland. Mainland China is Taiwan’s largest export destination."
China has suspended natural sand exports to Taiwan and has blocked imports of Taiwanese citrus fruits, chilled white scallops and frozen mackerel in the wake of Pelosi's visit to Taipei, according to the South China Morning Post.
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a meeting with Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen, second from right, in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.08.2022
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Winners and Losers

While Washington is bragging of boosting its image as a global power in the aftermath of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, China has scored a major victory, argues Huang Zonghao, a researcher at the Taiwan Research Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
"China reacted very quickly and immediately announced the military drills," says Huang. "[These drills] differ from all previous exercises in their scale, as they have covered six areas around the island. In the past, most of the Chinese military aircraft in the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone flew in the northeast, southwest, or cruised with military aircraft and bypassed warships. Now we are using this opportunity to conduct comprehensive military exercises, and it is likely that we will use this as an excuse to conduct this kind of military exercises on a permanent basis."
According to Huang, after this type of drills and exercises become a norm, some military preparations can be made for the liberation of Taiwan in the future. The researcher stresses that, more importantly, the People's Liberation Army's recent drills symbolize that China's military power has very clearly extended to the western Pacific and even challenged the established US strategy in the region. "This is the most important result," says Huang.
The researcher notes that some netizens reacted very emotionally to Pelosi's landing in Taipei wondering as to why Beijing had not sent fighter jets to intercept and escort the House speaker's plane. "Personally, I don't think it was necessary," notes Huang, adding that this could have fanned an anti-China sentiment in the US while bringing no tangible fruits for Beijing.
"In fact, China's power projection has extended far beyond the strait and straight into the western Pacific," he emphasizes. "In terms of containing Taiwan's independence efforts, this is a big step forward. The pressure on the Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party will also increase."
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