Why is US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan, and what makes China angry?
Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit: United States House speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday, amid speculations about her visit, and how will it impact US-China relations. She became the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island. China announced military manoeuvres in retaliation, even as Taiwanese officials welcomed her and she headed to her hotel.
Pelosi portrays her high-profile trip as part of a US obligation to stand with democracies against autocratic countries, and with democratic Taiwan against China. Let's understand the meaning and significance behind Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, and why does China mind it so much.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday herself explained the reason of her visit, stating the United States cannot stand by as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) "threatens" Taiwan and democracy. "We cannot stand by as the CCP proceeds to threaten Taiwan - and democracy itself," Pelosi said in an op-ed for The Washington Post newspaper. "It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats," she wrote.
She has made a mission over decades of showing support for embattled democracy movements. Those include a trip in 1991 to Tiananmen Square, where she and other lawmakers unrolled a small banner supporting democracy, as frowning Chinese security officers tried to shut them down. Chinese forces had crushed a homegrown democracy movement at the same spot two years earlier.
Even as Pelosi visited the self-ruled island, US President Joe Biden insisted there's no change in America's longstanding "one-China policy," which recognises Beijing but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taipei. Does this mean Pelosi's stand differs from that of the US?
As a matter of fact, Pelosi has also supported the "one-China policy" supported by Biden. But, Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as an encouragement to make the island's decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they don't support.
The reason Nancy Pelosi's visit ratcheted up tension between China and the United States is that China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and it views visits by foreign government officials as them recognising the island's sovereignty. Pelosi portrays her high-profile trip as part of a US obligation to stand with democracies against autocratic countries, and with democratic Taiwan against China. "It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats," she wrote.
Soon after Pelosi's arrival, China announced a series of military operations and drills, which followed its promises of "resolute and strong measures" if Pelosi went through with her visit. China's People's Liberation Army said the maneuvers would take place in the waters and skies near Taiwan and include the firing of long-range ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Biden both have made clear they don't want that. In a call with Biden last week, Xi echoed a theme of Biden's — their countries should cooperate on areas where they can. The biggest risk is likely an accident if China tries the kind of provocative maneuver it's increasingly been executing with other militaries around the South China Sea. Those include close fly-bys of other aircraft or confronting vessels at sea.
However, when it comes to the United States, with the world's strongest military, "despite a chorus of nationalistic rhetoric, China will be careful not to stumble into a conflict with colossal damages on all fronts," said Yu Lie, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House think tank.
(With AP Inputs)
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