Tensions have soured again between China and the United States of America (US) after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a historic visit to Taiwan, despite warnings from both the Biden administration and China.
Pelosi landed in the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei City, on Tuesday 2 August 2022.
Her visit was the first time in 25 years that a US House Speaker set foot in Taiwan, an independent-governing island that China claims as part of its territory.
Pelosi said that her mission was to make it “unequivocally clear” that the US would not “abandon” Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Pelosi’s visit instigated a raging reaction from China.
Within minutes of Pelosi landing in Taiwan on Tuesday night, China’s People Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command announced it would immediately begin “a series of joint military operations around the island”.
Taiwan has been another crucial point amid the tensions between Washington and Beijing over the past years.
Days before Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, disputed Taiwan during a two-hour phone call. According to BBC, President Xi asked Biden to acknowledge the ‘One China’ principle, stating that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”.
The ‘One China’ principle recognises a diplomatic relationship between the US and only one Chinese government. Therefore this does not acknowledge Taiwan as a self-governing nation.
However, as the US maintains a diplomatic grip on Taiwan, Pelosi referred to Taiwan as an inspiration to “all freedom-loving people” during her trip, despite China’s animosity over the matter.
Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwan’s president during her trip
On Wednesday, the congresswoman met with President Tsai Ing-wen at parliament in Taipei.
During the meeting at the presidential office, Pelosi addressed parliament stating:
“The world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s decision to preserve democracy here in Taiwan remains iron-clad.”
President Tsai in return praised their alliance with the US stating that Taiwan will remain a “trustworthy and reliable partner of the US”. Tsai also concluded that despite the aggressive military threats that Taiwan is facing, she assured that
“Taiwan will do whatever it takes to strengthen its self-defence capabilities.”
Pelosi is also expected to meet with a group of human rights activists during her stay on the Island.
President Tsai’s official Twitter account posted about the meeting with the US House speaker, writing that Pelosi’s visit played an integral role in reassuring ties between the two countries.
What could Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan mean for Beijing-Washington relations?
Beijing views Pelosi’s visit as another sign of support for Taiwan, therefore defying the ‘One China’ policy.
However, the White House had also opposed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, stating President Biden had claimed it was “not a good idea”.
The Biden administration has been building an economic and diplomatic strategy forming ties in Asia, in response to tensions with China and ensuring that US influences remain in the region.
The president has sent top military officials to form new relations in the Pacific, Solomon Islands. President Biden also visited South Korea and Japan in May and invited the two nations to a NATO meeting for the first time.
According to The New York Times, the visit to Taiwan by Pelosi now threatens to undermine the efforts by the White House, leaving allies to question the president’s united front in Asia and the US as political power and influence over China.
China’s responded to Pelosi’s visit with joint air and sea drills, including live-fire exercises. Now that China has threatened major military exercises near Taiwan, this raises the concern of what would stop the Eastern power from escalating the situation. Amid the Ukrainian war, could Pelosi’s trip be on the brink of the rhetorical disputes between Beijing and Washington that sets off another war?
While US allies have remained silent on the issue of Pelosi’s visit, the world watches as China threatens the US and Taiwan, the independent island that China claims as its own.