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A Signature Moment or Miscalculation - US Media Debate Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan Visit

Pelosi's Taiwan visit has already caused uproar in tense US-China relations, with the communist giant sending jets to the edge of Taiwanese air space

Wednesday August 3, 2022 1:01 PM, IANS

Nancy Pelosi

Taipei: Whether US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's risky trip to Taiwan was a valuable statement of US resolve or provoked China for no strategic gain depends on when, or if, Beijing's consequent fury and military posturing abate, media reports said.

So if Pelosi's visit 'a personal rebuke to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has made the takeover of Taiwan an existential quest' permanently worsens already poor US-China relations and brings forward what some see as an inevitable superpower confrontation, it might turn out to be a massive miscalculation, CNN reported.

Pelosi visited legislators and President Tsai Ing-Wen on the democratic self-governing island on Wednesday, giving her hosts the trappings of a nation-state visit sure to enrage the Chinese, CNN reported.

US-China ties

Her trip has already caused uproar in tense US-China relations, with the communist giant sending jets to the edge of Taiwanese air space and launching military exercises that sent an unsubtle message that Taiwan is surrounded.

However, if these eruptions stop short of a full-scale crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a vital strategic waterway, and avoid the possibility of miscalculations between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, or even Chinese and US assets in the region, the storm over Pelosi's mission could be temporary. The imagery of the US House speaker bolstering a democracy under China's giant shadow could become one of the signature moments in US Asia-Pacific foreign policy.


'Tussle between two civilizations'

The geopolitical relationship between Washington and Beijing is the most important nation-to-nation clash on the globe. It is unfolding as a generational tussle between two civilizations keen to imprint their values, economic systems and strategic hegemony on the rest of the world, CNN reported.

While the Biden administration has followed the Trump White House in treating China as an adversary rather than as a competitor, the prime goal of US policy is still to avoid what could be a disastrous future war between the two nations.

The same will be true if her trip prompts Beijing to take steps that rock the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Taiwanese in their dynamic island home, a factor often ignored by China hawks taking tough stands to bolster their political position in the US, CNN reported.

China miltary drills

Taiwan's government has issued strong condemnation of China's plans for live fire drills in locations around the island - Beijing's main response to Nancy Pelosi's visit, BBC reported.

Such drills "have invaded Taiwan's territorial space" and "amount to a blockade of Taiwan's air and sea space", the military said, BBC reported.

Taiwan's President Tsai has also criticised the drills, saying they are an unnecessary reaction and Taiwan was committed to maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

Also Read | China fumes as Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan despite repeated warnings

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said its military would "counter any move that violated Taiwan's territorial sovereignty".

Beijing says foreign aircraft or ships should not enter the area while their drills are underway, BBC reported.

Taiwan argues this is in breach of international law and global trade and shipping rules.

Shortly before Pelosi met with President Tsai, Taiwan's cabinet announced that the island's military had stepped up their alertness level.

Taiwanese response to Chinese military exercise

Authorities would enact plans to "ensure safety and stability around the island" - a response to China's announcement to hold three days of military drills encircling the island beginning Thursday.

The Taiwanese cabinet added that citizens should feel reassured in their security.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi met Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen despite sharp warnings from China against the visit. She is expected to have lunch and then leave the island, Taiwan's official central news agency says.

The trip, which is not backed by President Biden, is the first by such a senior US official in 25 years. BBC reported.

China's army will hold military exercises in areas around Taiwan from Thursday until Sunday. But the US says there is no need to turn the visit into a crisis, with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby emphasising America supports the status quo.


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