Who is the most powerful person in the United States? Without thinking twice, most people would say it is the President. Despite the President’s powers, there are some things he is careful not to do. One of such things is daring China.
After weeks of speculations, the Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives has angered Beijing by visiting Taiwan, which is considered part of China by the Communist Party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to the Island country on Wednesday despite threats and warnings from China, which makes her the first Speaker of Congress to visit Taiwan.
Earlier this week, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned that “there will be serious consequences if [Pelosi] insists on making the visit.”
“Forty-three years ago, with the Taiwan Relations Act, America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan. And on this strong foundation, we have built a thriving partnership, grounded in our shared values of self-government and self-determination, focused on our mutual security interests in the region and across the world, committed to the economic ties that power prosperity for all of our people,” Pelosi said after receiving a medal from the Taiwanese President.
“Our delegation – which I’m very proud – came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear: we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan, and we’re proud of our enduring friendship,” she added.
Despite the tensions connected with the visit, Pelosi did not leave Taiwan without taking a swipe at China. The Speaker commended Taiwan for its exemplary leadership and expressed her disappointment over the absence of Taiwan in global meetings.
“Taiwan has been prevented from participating in global meetings, most recently the World Health Organization, because of objections by the Chinese Communist Party,” Pelosi said. “While they may prevent Taiwan from sending its leaders to global forums, they cannot prevent world leaders or anyone from traveling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing Democracy, to highlight its many successes, and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration.”
Pelosi, who appeared unbothered about threats from China, left Taiwan with the promise that the United States would “continue to support the defense of democracy against autocracy in the region and in the world” and “unequivocally” vowed not to “abandon Taiwan.”
PRESIDENT TSAI VOWS TO DEFEND TAIWAN
Nancy Pelosi was not the only one who appeared unbothered by the threats from Beijing. President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was also not concerned with the military drills of the PLA. In a televised meeting with the Congress Speaker, President Tsai said her country “will not back down.”
“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said.
“We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy. At the same time, we wish to cooperate and work in unity with all democracies around the world to jointly safeguard democratic values,” the President added.
Although the Taiwanese government is democratically elected, China sees Taiwan as a part of it and hopes that someday, the two countries will be reunited. President Tsai has always vowed to resist any attempt to join the two countries.
Intelligence reports suggest that it is not a matter of if China will invade Taiwan but a question of when China will do it. There are indications that the PLA could be planning how best to reclaim the Island despite many years of independence.
Although American law does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, it is under obligation to provide defense for the Island country.
It would have been surprising if China folded its hands during Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. To send a message of disapproval, Beijing on Wednesday announced military drills close to Taiwan. China already warned the U.S about Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and even President Biden thought it was not a good idea because of China.
However, immediately after Pelosi left Taiwan, the PLA announced a military drill that will last for four days. Already, China has sent over 20 warplanes close to Taiwan, and more are expected to enter the country’s airspace.
Apart from the military drill, China has also slammed Taiwan with trade restrictions. On Wednesday, China announced that it would halt sand exports to Taipei. After the visit, the Chinese foreign minister said, “the US and Taiwan separatist forces must take the responsibility and pay the price for the mistakes they made.”
The same Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office announced the suspension of the imports of grapefruits, lemons, and oranges. Beijing also banned the importation of other citrus fruits. The Chinese also said they would not import chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan.
Experts are worried that China might impose more economic sanctions that would affect Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. If that happens, the entire world would be adversely affected, just like the Ukraine war is affecting the distribution of grains.
Despite the country’s small population, Taiwan is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic chips. These chips are needed worldwide to produce basic electronics like refrigerators, laptops, televisions, and others. With threats of economic sanctions, this industry that is already struggling to meet demands could be threatened.
WE DON’T WANT A WAR
Despite the heroic welcome given to Nancy Pelosi, there were mild protests in the capital of Taiwan. Protesters carried placards with the write-ups “we don’t want war.” Opinion polls suggest that almost 30% of Taiwanese want the country to remain the way it is or remerge with China. There is another 73% that are willing to fight if there is an invasion by China.
The minority of the population protested Pelosi’s visit. Some placards even read “Get out Pelosi.” The visit also generated protests in the U.S as a section of the population in San Francisco was disappointed with the Speaker’s visit to the self-governed Island.
Whichever way, it has become obvious that America would not pay for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The people of Taiwan would be the ones to suffer the adverse consequences because they are more vulnerable.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit has come and gone. But the effect of the visit might last longer. The speaker spent less than a day on the Island country. The less than 24 hours visit has already started a four-day military drill. Hopefully, it does not cause a war that lasts for four years.