The entire world will be affected if peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is compromised. China should refrain from military actions that raise tensions.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. During a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, she said, “America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”
It was the first time in 25 years for the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, although U.S. congresspersons and cabinet members have visited during that time. Expressing solidarity with Taiwan and having exchange with the island economy are not contrary to America’s China policy.
The Xi leadership, however, kept the U.S. in check by saying before the visit that its military would “not sit idly by” and going forward with military exercises.
Behind this is China’s wrath toward the U.S. for increasing its involvement with Taiwan. The house speaker is second in the United States presidential line of succession, after the vice president. Moreover, Nancy Pelosi is a heavyweight in the Democratic Party and as a supporter of human rights has been critical of China for many years.
This autumn, the Chinese Communist Party will hold its National Congress where it will decide whether Xi will see a third term as party leader. There is a chance that the important events on the political calendar led China to take a hardline stance.
Once Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, China took steps to keep the situation in check.
It announced it would conduct military exercises in the waters around Taiwan. These drills entered Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and the Japanese government expressed its concern.
China is also taking economic measures, including stopping the import of Taiwanese food items.
The situation in Taiwan runs the risk of causing a head-on clash between the United States and China. Since caution was warranted, the Biden administration expressed the view that visiting Taiwan at this juncture would not be advisable.
Although it refrained from stopping Pelosi from going on the trip based on the spirit of separation of powers, it has repeatedly told China that its policy on Taiwan remains unchanged. The U.S. thus communicated that it does not intend to stir things up.
China must not exacerbate the friction despite receiving such signals from the U.S. government. If it tries to assert its claims by force, its credibility in the international community will decline and this will only cause alarm.
The leaders of the United States and China confirmed the importance of the bilateral ties in a recent teleconference. The Xi leadership must also be hoping to avoid outright conflict. It is the responsibility of the major powers to continue holding dialogue in order to prevent a crisis.