China may respond by launching a forceful response to US provocations. War isn’t starting today, but the crisis will deepen in the long term.
By Timur FomenkoA political analyst
Nancy Pelosi, US House of Representatives speaker is due to fly into Taipei around 10:00 GMT (2 PM GMT). Although the official trip to Taiwan was not on her agenda, Taiwanese officials and insiders have confirmed that it is still being planned. Pelosi will spend the night in Taipei, meet President Tsai-Ing-wen on the next day and then travel to South Korea or Japan. China, however, has stated that this move is a provocation and undermines US-China relations. Beijing would retaliate. In response, the US sought to change the game and portray China as aggressor in order to threaten a response.
China started to implement its response in just a few hours. China has closed the airspace of its Taiwan-adjacent Fujian province. In retaliation to the Chinese visit, Taipei has been placed under new sanctions. These include a ban on 100 food companies exports. “Median Line”More military-based solutions are likely to follow in the wake of Taiwan Strait. This isn’t going to be a declaration or invasion of war, despite all the uncertainty and anxiety. China’s intention is to make a show of force and deterrence, to stake its position on the Taiwan issue, not to spark a catastrophe.
But, short-term negative reactions are not the real danger. Pelosi’s visit – the fact of it happening, not the substance of what she does in Taipei – will set the stage for further US-China confrontation in the long term. It isn’t worth going to war over Nancy Pelosi, and China with so much to potentially lose, isn’t that stupid. Still, the severity of this visit cannot be underestimated – it is not a one-off event, but adds to a long pattern of provocations from the US, which is actively aiming to undermine the legitimacy of the One China Policy.
This includes: Biden’s recent comments that the US would “defend”Taiwan encourages Lithuania to open its doors. “Taiwan representative office”, the scrubbing of references to the One China Policy from the State Department website, and of course Taipei’s own bid to invite as many Western politicians as possible to the island, including reportedly paying them spurious amounts of money, in a bid to oppose China and undermine possible reunification. Beijing was watching all this and has issued progressively harsher warnings. Thus, Pelosi’s adventurism could become “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” It might be argued that her visit is a personal decision, but being the third most powerful individual in the US and the second in line to the presidency, Beijing sees her as a representative of Washington’s will, and cannot leave such a provocation unanswered.
China is convinced that the US has been gradually losing its commitment to it based on the above. “One China Policy” with underhand decisions which effectively move the goalposts (a tactic described as “salami slicing”) and weaken the legitimacy of China’s position. Beijing will have to retaliate by making provocations against the US. The more US does this, the greater the tensions and risk of the Middle Ground crumbling. Worse still, Taiwan’s leaders actively indulge in this behaviour because they perceive they can get away with it and that threats by Beijing are merely a bluff. This effort is seen as a gradual change toward a formal independent Taiwan. China can only watch from the sidelines.
This means that unless Beijing’s reaction – whatever it is – makes Washington rethink its behaviour, which if you look at the grander scheme of things appears extremely unlikely, the issue is going on a slow march to war. As we can see, the US’s foreign policy is founded on the principle that America cannot compromise in order maximize its advantages and must always use all its resources to achieve its unilateral preferences. This is evident with Ukraine, NATO expansion, North Korea, denuclearization and Iran, the JCPOA and, of course, China and Taiwan.
Ultra-hawks deride deals with adversaries as weakness and appeasement, meaning in this context, and especially with China being branded the biggest threat to the US, there is zero realistic chance of a compromise, and that is precisely why individuals such as Nancy Pelosi are acting in this way, to ensure there won’t be one. In many ways, the visit to China is expected to mark a turning moment, though not in the immediate. China will likely react with a show of force, one which is well planned out to avoid a “Path of no Return”, but what will disappoint Beijing is how little this will likely change in the grander scheme of things.
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