Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
July 27, 2022
The yet to be formally announced visit to Taiwan by US Speaker of House, Madame Nancy Pelosi, is triggering an increased high tension between DC and Beijing. There are pros and cons on whether Pelosi makes the trip or not. But the key issue is as of now that Taipei has not issued an invitation for Pelosi to visit. In fact, Taipei has been unusually “quiet” on her trip. So, what is Pelosi’s trip all about?
Pelosi is 82 years old, a seasoned US politician, as such her political position is well known: she supports Taiwan, but she does not support Taiwan independence. This is consistent with the official US policy. Her rationale for visiting Taipei this time is to show her support of Taiwan. However, does she have to be in Taipei, in person, and repeating her pledge of supporting Taiwan? What will Taiwan get from her royal visit now? What will she bring to Taiwan? Nothing but some photo opportunities and international attention of her!
Domestically, President Biden has openly expressed his opinion: US military does not think it is a good idea for her to visit Taipei now. Pelosi may still visit Taipei just to show as Speaker of the US House, she does not have to follow the White House’s policy. But it exposes a major issue of the US government’s three independent branches. On global politics, who speaks for US foreign policy?
President Biden has announced that he will have a summit call with President Xi very soon, most likely within the next 24 hours. That is good news! But Xi, like any other head of states, surely would be very careful on Biden’s position or promises. Because the US congress can undercut or override any US President’s promise. Should Biden get the approval from the US Congress before his foreign engagement as the President of the US?
The world now is facing unprecedented challenges: COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, Ukraine war entered the sixth month with no end in sight, a global recession is almost inevitable in 2023. Specifically, US faces significant domestic challenges including record inflations, divided society, federal budget, Biden as President of the US should engage foreign leaders as much as he can. The Congress, including Speaker Pelosi should stay home working with Biden and GOP for the best interest of US.
Finally, there is no reason for US taxpayers to cover her foreign visits. She is a multimillionaire, if she pays her travel expenses, there will be less controversy.
The following is a collection of readers’ responses:
I have lived in Taiwan for years. It is a lovely, peaceful, vibrant democracy. The people just want to live in peace. Pelosi’s visit accomplishes nothing for the Taiwanese. US politicians are using Taiwan as a pawn to symbolize their resolve against China. If I were Tsai, I’d covertly suggest to the US State Department that perhaps Pelosi has another bout of COVID. This is a delicate balancing act in international relations. Tsai did the right thing in standing up to Beijing, particularly considering Hong Kong, but while not announcing independence — yet enjoying every bit of it — has prevented them from becoming an Asian Ukraine, not announcing Pelosi’s arrival would display equal wisdom.
We have significant gun violence here in America. More people are killed and injured each and every day, then between China and Taiwan. First we should take care of our house, then go some 18,000 miles away and put our noses in others countries affairs. This is not post war 1945, the world has moved on.
One question why do all the government people want to visit other places on our dime are they trying to get a little money under the table?
Way out of her lane. It is the President’s job to deal with foreign countries, not Congress. Just another photo op.
EXPLAINER: Why is a Pelosi visit to Taiwan causing tension?
Tue, July 26, 2022 at 1:36 AM
BEIJING (AP) — China is warning it will respond forcefully if U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proceeds with a visit to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy it claims as its own territory.
Pelosi is second in line to the presidency and would be the highest ranking U.S. politician to visit Taiwan since 1997. China has threatened unspecified “resolute and strong measures” if she goes ahead, which analysts say could cause tensions to spike in the Taiwan Strait, considered a major potential Asian powder keg.
Here’s a look at what’s happening.
WHY DOES PELOSI WANT TO VISIT TAIWAN?
Pelosi has been a staunch critic of China throughout her more than three decades in Congress, once unfurling a banner on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square memorializing those killed in the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989. She was also a strong supporter of 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, making her a target of caustic criticism from Beijing.
Taiwan enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress, and Pelosi said last week it was “important for us to show support for Taiwan.” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has defied Beijing’s threats and her administration has favored core democratic values and liberal policies close to Pelosi’s heart, including same-sex marriage and a strong social security net.
WHY WOULD THE VISIT CAUSE A RISE IN TENSIONS?
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary and its military buildup in recent years has largely been oriented toward such a mission.
Beijing objects to all official contact between Taipei and Washington, and routinely threatens retaliation. This time, the stakes appear to be higher. China launched military exercises and fired missiles into waters near Taiwan in response to a 1995 visit to the U.S. by Taiwan’s then-President Lee Teng-hui, but it’s military capabilities have advanced massively since then.
While experts say it’s unlikely China would use force to prevent Pelosi’s U.S. government plane from landing in Taipei, its response remains unpredictable. Threatening military drills and incursions by ships and planes are considered potential scenarios that would set the entire region on edge.
WHY IS THE TIMING SENSITIVE?
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who will speak to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, is keen to keeping America’s crucial but often turbulent and highly complex relationship with China on an even keel.
Pelosi had planned to visit in April but postponed after getting COVID-19. She has declined to discuss reported plans to travel to Taiwan in coming weeks. That could coincide with China’s celebrations of the Aug. 1 anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party.
A more robust Chinese response could also be driven by Xi’s desire to bolster his nationalist credentials ahead of a party congress later this year at which he is expected to seek a third five-year term in office. Xi’s expansion of his powers into every sphere and his hardline zero-COVID response to the domestic epidemic has sowed a degree of resentment and appealing to raw patriotism, particularly over Taiwan, might help him fend off criticism.
WHAT IS TAIWAN’S ATTITUDE TOWARD A VISIT?
Tsai has been welcoming of all foreign dignitaries, serving and retired, from the U.S., Europe and Asia, using such visits as a bulwark against China’s refusal to deal with her government and relentless campaign of diplomatic isolation. Still, her rhetoric on such occasions has generally been relatively low-key, reflecting her own calm demeanor and possibly a desire not to further antagonize China, which remains a crucial economic partner, with around a million Taiwanese residing in mainland China.
The capital Taipei staged a civil defense drill Monday and Tsai on Tuesday attended annual military exercises, although there was no direct connection with tensions over a possible Pelosi visit. While the Taiwanese public strongly rejects China’s demands for unification, the ability of the island’s military to defend against the PLA without U.S. help is highly questionable, so shoring up the armed forces has been a hallmark of Tsai’s term in office.
Speaking Tuesday during the exercises, Defense Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang said the military was monitoring all movements of Chinese warships and aircraft around the island. “At the same time, we have the confidence and ability to ensure the security of our country,” Sun said.