Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
August 4, 2022
Madame Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, visited the Pacific Region and she should be back home by this weekend. She should hold a public news conference and answer some questions. We, as taxpayers, would like to hear from her how she advanced any US interest during this trip.
Further, Pelosi should visit Biden because US credibility is on the line, because the US is risking another military confrontation in Indo-Pacific along with the war in Ukraine, which enters 165 days with no end in sight.
US-China relationship was developed, natured, and maintained by seasoned politicians and foreign policy experts. The “deliberate ambiguity” over Taiwan is based on the philosophy called “diplomacy.” Unfortunately, even the US political leaders now are very senior: Pelosi is 82 years old; Biden is 79 years old; Trump is 76 years old; Senator Feinstein is 89 years old, US global standing is taking hits every day.
A major reason is that these senior US leaders “talk” too much without much action. For example, the US federal government has been operating on “continued resolutions” without an annual federal budget for the past few years.
In terms of foreign policy, almost every senator or congressman can take a position on any issue anytime. They also visit foreign countries when and where they wish. Of course, Biden is responsible for not been able to promulgate a clear China policy yet. But Biden does need help, as the following analysis showed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan promoted a “crisis” that left “a serious headache for Biden.” It didn’t help that one arm of the US government seemed to be at odds with another, making Taiwan look like it was part of a Washington turf war.
Therefore, “I think (the Pelosi visit) will lock in the hardest-line thinking in China, and really remove any place for advocacy of patience and caution,” Danny Russel told the BBC.
It is a good suggestion: Ms Glaser says what’s needed is a “focused, quiet, candid dialogue” that goes off the standard ambiguity of the script and clearly spells out red lines. But there is little incentive for Xi to engage with Biden for such a “focused, quiet, candid dialogue.” By the time of G-20 annual meeting, which is probably the only chance that Biden and Xi can meet at a third country, Xi will be secured for another five-year term as President of China but Biden (Pelosi as well) will be lame duck after the US mid-term election. It is a waste of Xi’s time and energy to deal with Biden. Xi will patiently wait to deal with a new US leader after 2024.
Where does Taiwan crisis leave Biden’s China policy?
Barbara Plett Usher – BBC State Department correspondent
Thu, August 4, 2022 at 12:27 PM
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has left Joe Biden with a serious headache as he tries to manage ties with America’s biggest global rival. Analysts warn that many risks lie ahead.
The relationship between China and the United States was founded on deliberate ambiguity over Taiwan.
Maintaining the status quo – in which Beijing says Taiwan is part of China, Taiwan says it’s independent, the US says it’s not but treats it like an ally, and no one makes aggressive moves on their claims – has been the least-worst option of keeping a tenuous peace.
But the US House Speaker has shone a harsh spotlight on the contradictions of this arrangement – which had already become strained.
China’s fury over her visit to Taiwan – she is the most senior US official to make the trip in 25 years – has also further complicated President Biden’s efforts to manage a relationship that’s reached new lows.
And it’s increased the chance of America being drawn into conflict with another major power while preoccupied with Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Ms Pelosi, a Democrat and long-time China hawk, was cheered on by a strong contingent of Republican lawmakers who agreed that congressional visits to Taiwan were important demonstrations of US solidarity in the face of rising Chinese threats toward the self-governing island.
Her fellow Democrat in the White House didn’t feel it was his place to stand her down, since Congress is independent of the executive.
When Ms Pelosi decided to go anyway the administration was left to defend the move and play down its significance, stressing that it didn’t mark a change in America’s “One China” policy.
But it acknowledged that Beijing would react badly and could continue its response for weeks if not months.
As China encircles Taiwan with live-fire military drills, the view in Washington is still that President Xi aims to “calibrate” his moves so as not to ignite open warfare, which neither side wants.
But it’s an explosive development in a brittle relationship.
“The US and China don’t have either the political space or really the relationships and the mechanisms to prevent an incident like that from becoming a full-blown crisis,” says Danny Russel, a former diplomat who specialised in the Asia Pacific, now with the Asia Society Policy Institute.
That would deepen the dysfunction of already faltering efforts for the two global powers to address a host of other issues.
China’s diplomatic support for Russia is near the top of the list for the US, but the ongoing trade war is a close second, followed by the need to deal together with climate change and the risk of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
President Biden took office as Xi Jinping was growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad. The US response was a policy that defined Beijing as a strategic competitor and America’s greatest long-term challenge. China didn’t appreciate this framework, and the administration hasn’t got far with its plan to also seek cooperation where possible.
The White House now says its goal is to establish “guardrails” to manage disagreements, worked out directly between the two presidents.
But Taiwan has raised “an issue of credibility,” says Bonnie Glaser, an Asia specialist at the German Marshall fund. “I do think that Xi Jinping will feel that he cannot take Joe Biden’s word.”
In that, Ms Pelosi’s visit is only the tip of the iceberg. It follows a series of other steps that made China suspect the US was normalising relations with Taiwan, not least Mr Biden’s suggestions that he had a stronger commitment to the island’s defence than American policy requires.
Perhaps that will be possible if efforts to organise a face-to-face meeting between the presidents on the sidelines of the G20 summit in November bear fruit. That might help stabilise the relationship but would be unlikely to move it beyond crisis management.
Pelosi trip to Taiwan poses new challenge for White House
Alexander Nazaryan Senior White House Correspondent
Mon, August 1, 2022 at 1:37 PM
WASHINGTON — The White House tried on Monday to lower tensions over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan, which China has already said would be considered a serious provocation.
“There’s no reason for this to escalate,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a White House briefing on Monday, reiterating that the Biden administration continues to endorse the “One China” policy.
“The speaker has a right to visit Taiwan, and a speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year,” Kirby said. “The world has seen the United States government be very clear that nothing has changed — nothing has changed — about our One China policy.”
“We don’t support Taiwan independence,” Kirby reasserted on Monday, a view that is consistent with that of previous administrations.
China bristled at the news. “If the U.S. insists on going down the wrong path, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said the day after her intentions were made public.
China, US allies divided over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit
Wed, August 3, 2022 at 1:02 AM
BEIJING (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has drawn bipartisan support at home and backing among the world’s democracies.
Meanwhile, China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory with no right to an independent identity, has rallied support among fellow authoritarian states. The divided opinions speak both to China’s growing global influence and the backlash that has prompted among the world’s liberal societies.
China has responded to the visit by announcing a series of days-long military exercises surrounding Taiwan and issuing a stream of invective aimed at the U.S. and Taiwan governments, accusing them of colluding to undermine Chinese sovereignty and national security.
“This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces seeking ‘independence,’” the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater command said in a statement Tuesday.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, whose country’s ties with China have nosedived in recent years, declined to comment specifically Wednesday on Pelosi’s visit. However, he noted, “We live in an era where the strategic competition and increased tension in our region and where China has taken a more aggressive posture in the region.”
“But our position on Taiwan is clear,” he added. “We don’t want to see any unilateral change to the status quo and we’ll continue to work with partners to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also avoided commenting on Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, but raised concern about China’s planned live-fire military exercises in the regional seas that encompass parts of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Matsuno said Japan has conveyed Tokyo’s “concerns” to Beijing about the exercise.
Chinese ally North Korea, meanwhile, used the visit to accuse the U.S. of being “the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region,” and said it supported Beijing in the confrontation surrounding Pelosi’s visit.
Russia — another Chinese ally and whose invasion of Ukraine has fueled concerns over China’s own threat to annex Taiwan by force — called the visit a “clear provocation, which is in line with the United States’ aggressive policy aimed at comprehensively containing China.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov further criticized the visit in comments Wednesday during a stop in Myanmar, whose Moscow-backed military government is accused of widespread human rights abuses.
“It’s an aspiration to prove to everyone their impunity and show lawlessness. ‘It’s my way only,’ something like this,” Lavrov said in reference to the U.S. “I see no other reason to create such an annoyance almost out of the blue.“
China’s official Xinhua News Agency also quoted the Chinese secretary general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as saying the China and Russia-dominated grouping of mainly Central Asia states “firmly opposes interference in the internal affairs of its member states by any external force.”
“Pelosi visited China’s Taiwan region in disregard of China’s strong opposition and serious representations, and the Chinese government has expressed its firm opposition to and stern condemnation of the visit,” Zhang Ming was quoted as saying.
Vandenberg calls off Minuteman III missile test launch due to tensions with China
Janene Scully Thu, August 4, 2022 at 5:39 PM
A routine Minuteman III missile test at Vandenberg Space Force Base has been called off amid heightened tensions with China, White House officials announced Thursday.
Airlines cancel, reroute flights during Chinese military drills near Taiwan
Joyce Lee and Jamie Freed
Thu, August 4, 2022 at 6:07 PM
SEOUL, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Some airlines have cancelled flights to Taipei and rerouted others using nearby airspace that has been closed to civilian traffic during Chinese military exercises sparked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China conducts ‘precision missile strikes’ in Taiwan Strait for military exercise
Johnson Lai, Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Thu, August 4, 2022 at 7:52 AM
KEELUNG, Taiwan — China conducted “precision missile strikes” Thursday in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters off the eastern coast of Taiwan as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades.