Unnecessary visit

Published August 4, 2022

CONSIDERING the combustible state of Sino-American relations, it was hoped that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would put off her visit to Taiwan. However, the seasoned American politician chose optics over rationality, landing on the island on Tuesday and meeting the Taiwanese president a day later before jetting out of Taipei to complete her Asian tour. China — which had strongly opposed the visit by the American official — has reacted furiously, calling the trip “extremely egregious”, while the Chinese military has announced massive drills in the waters around Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and any foreign attempts to grant legitimacy to Taiwanese aspirations for independence are not taken well by the People’s Republic. All of this could have been avoided had Ms Pelosi acted in a more prudent manner.

The fact is that even the American establishment appeared uneasy with the Taiwan trip. After all, the decision-makers in the White House as well as the Pentagon realise that with the Ukraine-Russia war raging in Europe and the globe facing a deep economic recession, opening a new front with China is not a good idea. But such logic did not seem to appeal to Ms Pelosi. It must be asked what was achieved by the visit. The US Speaker said in Taipei that the world faced “a choice between democracy and autocracy”, implying that America stood with ‘democratic’ Taiwan in the face of ‘autocratic’ China. However, not too long ago the American president was in Saudi Arabia, not exactly a beacon of democratic rule, as well as Israel, which claims to be a democracy but routinely massacres defenceless Palestinians. This visit was hardly about democracy, but about making America’s geopolitical rival look bad. Either the US should openly say it no longer adheres to the ‘One China’ policy, and prepare to face the blowback from Beijing, or it should adopt the wiser course, which would be to let China and Taiwan sort out their problems peacefully, without foreign actors getting involved.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2022

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