Who the hell is China to tell the United States, the strongest and mightiest nation in the world, which country it can or cannot visit? That was basically the provocative and arrogant statement issued by both Republican and Democrats politicians. Adding fuel to the fire, news media like CNN and Fox News continuously condemned President Biden for his cowardice in facing Beijing.
Nancy Pelosi herself was not sure if she should make a stop in Taiwan. If she was freaking sure, her itinerary would not have had listed the trip to Taipei as “tentative”. The POTUS already said that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now”. An “assessment of the security situation” was also given by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin two days before her tour to Asia.
However, due to the tremendous pressure from fellow Democrats and even rival Republicans, Pelosi could not lose face and had to make the trip. Even then, the military plane that took her to Taiwan had to avoid South China Sea, making a long 7-hour detour due to fear that the Chinese man-made islands in the Spratlys – heavily militarized – could “accidentally” shoot the plane down.
Instead of flying directly from Malaysia to Taiwan across the South China Sea, Pelosi flew southeast over Indonesia’s Kalimantan before turning north and then to the east of the Philippines. This is the first time a high-ranking U.S. official had to avoid flying over the contested area, despite having deployed USS Ronald Reagan and other warships to protect the House Speaker.
She came, she instigated and she left. Pelosi has won some praises back home. For a moment, Americans have forgotten how her husband, Paul Pelosi, has been arrested for drink-driving in California in May. With an estimated net worth of about US$46 million, the House Speaker who is ranked as the 14th wealthiest member of Congress, is also plagued with insider trading scandal.
Her husband bought 20,000 shares of NVIDIA, one of the world’s largest chipmaker before a legislative vote to give US$52 billion to American semiconductor companies. The Pelosi family had also made profits on Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, Visa and other stocks on what suspected to be dubious trading based on insider information most likely provided by Nancy Pelosi.
The visit to Taiwan was also to divert attention from the disastrous Ukraine War, which was created by the Biden administration and Democrats, but boomerang and hit the U.S. economy instead. More importantly, the Democrats is on the brink of losing the midterm election in November, meaning Pelosi would lose his job as the House Speaker, hence her visit to win votes.
However, November is also the month where Chinese President Xi Jinping is supposed to secure a third term during China’s 20th Communist Party congress. Even though he is expected to win, Pelosi’s visit was a slap in the face of the Chinese leader. Washington told Beijing not to turn Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan into a crisis, claiming that even the president has no power to stop the House Speaker.
It doesn’t matter whether the U.S. President and the House Speaker operate independently. As far as Beijing is concerned, Biden and Pelosi are from the same party and government. Both the White House and Congress represent the U.S. Besides, it’s hard to say whether both were playing good cop bad cop. No matter the excuse, China cannot tolerate the visit to Taiwan.
Sure, it was not worthwhile to go to war over an 82-year-old woman who is about to lose his job. However, the visit was more than rubbing salt on an open wound. Now that Pelosi has challenged Xi, not only the Chinese president looks weak in the eyes of his own people and even the world, it could embolden more foreign politicians to visit Taiwan – if China does not retaliate.
Worse, Pelosi said she had travelled to Taiwan to deliver an “unequivocal message” – “We will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan”. She was then gifted with a medal, the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon. Because the House Speaker is second in line to the presidency, her visit was considered an “official visit” and her message representing the U.S. foreign policy.
It’s not rocket science that besides embolden other Western lawmakers to visit Taiwan, Pelosi’s visit has emboldened the island to resist China and its dream of unification. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has brushed aside Chinese threats over the visit, defiantly lighting Taipei’s tallest skyscraper with a message – “Speaker Pelosi – Welcome to TW”.
Regardless whether Biden and Pelosi were playing drama or not, Beijing saw the visit as highly provocative largely because it encourages Taiwan to officially declare independence. The U.S. is betting that like 25 years ago, the Chinese government is still a toothless tiger that would not be able to do anything. It also does not believe the mainland Chinese will slaughter Taiwan Chinese.
One of the reasons why the U.S. dares to challenge China is because Xi Jinping is not Vladimir Putin. If the Chinese president is Putin, Taiwan would have been game over ages ago. President Tsai might have been assassinated and islands like Kinmen Island, Dongyin Island, Dongsha Island (Pratas) and Taiping Islands (Itu Aba) would have been invaded and annexed.
Right up to the moment when Russian President Putin ordered his invasion of Ukraine, many Russia experts and analysts did not believe he would pull the trigger. In fact, even the Western best analysts thought he was bluffing. However, Putin has an extraordinary high risk tolerance, willing to gamble his country’s future. What he needed to do was to threaten nuclear attack and the West folds.
Traditionally, Chinese are seen as more pragmatic. Even after trade war and tech war with the U.S., the Chinese people have remained rational, recognizing the importance of business and trade. This is where the American politicians manipulate Beijing, betting that China will think twice about invading Taiwan because it would not want to destroy the world’s biggest chip manufacturer.
As expected, China retaliated by blocking imports of citrus, fish, cookies and other foods from Taiwan, but has avoided important technology like semiconductor. Taiwanese companies have invested nearly US$200 billion in the mainland over the past three decades. Chips are China’s biggest import – worth more than US$400 billion a year, ahead of crude oil.
Beijing has also announced four days of intensive military exercises around Taiwan – after the live-fire military drills after Pelosi’s arrival. Less than 24 hours after the House Speaker left, China has fired at least 11 Dong-Feng ballistic missiles into seas north, south and east of Taiwan. The last time China launched missiles into water around Taiwan was in 1996.
Six areas have been identified by the military exercise to seal off Taiwan and repel foreign intervention. And for the first time, one of the Chinese missiles flew over Taiwan. The exercises obviously are being carried out to send a message that a sea blockade can be imposed on Taiwan as well as to show off that the Chinese military’s ability to deploy precision weapons.
Still, what’s next after the end of the four-day military exercises? The egg is still on Xi Jinping’s face after Pelosi’s visit. At most, the exercises have caused disruption to about 300 flights and ship schedules in Taiwan. Is this what Xi meant when he told Biden over the phone – “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this”.
Perhaps Beijing is trying to normalize the latest military exercises – firing ballistic missiles and carrying out military drills nearer to the Taiwanese doorstep. There’s no telling when and if China will carry similar sea blockade exercise whenever they like to create trouble for the Taiwanese government. By operating closer and closer to Taiwan, Beijing is also testing to see the U.S. reactions.
In the long term, similar sea blockade military drills could disrupt supply chain, especially semiconductor from Taiwan and South Korea to the West. Calling the tactic irresponsible and illegitimate, Taipei has already complained that the drills violate United Nations rules and invades Taiwan’s territorial space and are a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation.
But here’s the problem that has made American politicians and even Nancy Pelosi look like a fool when they refer to Taiwan as a country. Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations because it is not a sovereign state. The UN General Assembly resolution 2758 has completely resolved the issue of representation of China and Taiwan in the United Nations.
In 1971, the UN resolution gave the China seat, which was held by Taiwan until then, to the government in Beijing. Additionally, the United States too switched recognition to Beijing in 1979. However, to keep Beijing in check and to sell weapons, the U.S. Congress deliberately passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which obliges the U.S. supply of weapons to the island for self defence.
So, the question is what Xi Jinping will do next after the end of the drills on Sunday. Will it be extended in preparation for something much bigger? Moscow has expressed its support for Beijing. Japan isn’t impressed that the scope of ballistic missile test has encroached into its territory. Even Western media like the New York Times has openly condemned Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as utterly reckless.
Humiliated, Xi Jinping still has many cards to play. China could openly provide military assistance to Russia if the U.S. interferes and escalates the conflict in the Taiwan Strait. If joined forces, China and Russia could create troubles for Japan and the U.S. in the region. The New York Times acknowledged that Ukraine War is more important, and the U.S. cannot fight both Russia and China at the same time.
Pelosi has delivered a nice speech and left the island, leaving President Tsai clean the mess she had left to Taiwan’s 23 million people. Exactly what has the House Speaker achieved by provoking China, except adding tension to the already fragile U.S.-China relationship? Pelosi has amusingly played sexist card, accusing Beijing of retaliation because she was a woman. FINANCE TWITTER
PLA aircraft carrier group with nuclear-powered submarine joins drills around Taiwan: expert
The picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. Photo:China Military
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent an aircraft carrier group featuring at least one nuclear-powered submarine to the ongoing drills around the island of Taiwan for its first carrier deterrence exercise, said an expert affiliated with the PLA on Thursday.
Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA, told the Global Times on Thursday that the PLA’s drills from Thursday to Sunday around the island of Taiwan will feature the PLA’s first aircraft carrier group deterrence exercise, which will establish a maritime multidimensional combat system.
“Normally, a nuclear-powered submarine will accompany an aircraft carrier group in its mission,” Zhang said. The expert confirmed with the Global Times that at least one nuclear-powered submarine has been deployed.
While the drills are organized by the PLA Eastern Theater Command, forces from other theater commands also participated in the drills, Zhang said. “This reflects the high interoperability between PLA’s various theater commands,” he said.
The PLA Navy operates two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong. Zhang did not confirm which carrier is participating in the drills, or if both carriers have formed a dual-carrier group. GLOBAL TIMES
Yoon snubs Pelosi amid regional tensions, as ‘playing high-profile host to US House Speaker risks antagonizing China’
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s “unfortunate” absence from a meeting with visiting Speaker of US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is seen by Chinese experts as a way to avoid embarrassment, as Pelosi’s recent visit to the island of Taiwan has irritated China and caused tensions in the region. It may have dawned on the South Korean leader that whoever plays high-profile host to Pelosi at this sensitive moment could risk provoking China, experts said.
Pelosi met South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and other senior members of parliament on Thursday. Pelosi and her delegation later spoke by phone with Yoon on the two countries’ alliance, foreign policy and other issues. Yoon is on vacation this week, while South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin headed to Cambodia on Wednesday to attend a series of ASEAN meetings.
Yoon, who is believed to be at home in Seoul, was at a theater and then had dinner with some actors on Wednesday night when Pelosi arrived, the Financial Times reported.
Pelosi and her parliamentary delegation arrived in South Korea Wednesday night after making a stop on the island of Taiwan, an unconfirmed destination on her Asian tour, which has provoked strong opposition and condemnation from China and the international community.
When Pelosi last visited South Korea in 2015, she met with then president of Korea, Park Geun-hye, and then foreign minister, Yun Byung-se.
This time, Yoon had a 40-minute phone conversation with Pelosi, during which Yoon and Pelosi affirmed their commitment to the South Korea-US alliance and asked for her continued support for the development of a global comprehensive strategic alliance between the two countries, reported Korea Joongang Daily.
During the phone conversation, Pelosi and other members of her congressional delegation did not bring up the Taiwan issue, and Yoon didn’t raise the matter either, AP quoted Yoon’s office as saying.
Shortly before the phone call, Pelosi met with National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and discussed regional security and economic cooperation, according to the report.
According to AP, Pelosi did not directly mention her Taiwan visit or China’s anger on this issue.
Experts said the South Korean president avoided an awkward meeting with Pelosi as it is clear that any country that plays high-profile host to Pelosi who has just stirred up tensions across the Taiwan strait could risk antagonizing China.
“The South Korean government would be in a very embarrassing situation if Pelosi’s meeting were with the president or foreign minister and Taiwan-related topics were brought to the table by the US side, which was quite possible considering she just left the island and drew a huge reaction in the region,” Lü Chao, an expert on Korean Peninsula issues at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
“Seoul would not want to anger China at this point or have any confrontation with the US over the topic of the Taiwan question. Thus, the South Korean government’s arrangement of having its National Assembly Speaker meet with Pelosi both looks polite and preserves its national interests,” he said.
Some observers in South Korea shared that view. Kim Heung-kyu, director of the US-China Policy Institute at Ajou University, said the president or the foreign minister would have tried to hold talks with the No.3 politician in the US in the past, but the government seems to have decided not to excessively politicize Pelosi’s visit this time and unnecessarily irritate China, reported the Guardian.
Analysts said that South Korea’s arrangements in receiving Pelosi also showed that the US’ increasing pressure on South Korea to choose sides between it and China has put the Yoon government in an embarrassing situation, and closely following the US to counter China will not fit the interests of South Korea and endanger its relations with China.
When asked about whether the country’s position would change after Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a press conference on Thursday that South Korea has always adhered to the one-China principle.
The government is paying close attention to the situation across the Taiwan Strait, said the spokesperson.
Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming said on Tuesday that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a serious blow to the regional situation and will lead to extremely serious developments and consequences, reported Korea Daily News.
In addition to the Taiwan question, experts noted that if Pelosi meets with Yoon, it may put pressure on South Korea to join the US-led alliance known as “Chip 4”, which would include the US, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The proposed alliance is believed to be aimed at China, as chips are an important South Korean export to China.
The US is South Korea’s ally and China is a significant trade partner as well as neighbor of South Korea. How to coordinate bilateral relations with the two countries to maintain a balance and maximize South Korea’s interests has become one of the most challenging tasks for the Yoon government, observers said. GLOBAL TIMES
FINANCE TWITTER / GLOBAL TIMES