0519 GMT December 10, 2022
According to a statement made by the office of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Taiwan won’t be one of the destinations in Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Asia. She is about to visit Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and South Korea, and it seems that her plan to pay a visit to Taiwan is cancelled after the Chinese repeatedly gave stern warnings to the U.S., which ended in the presidents of the two countries finally discussing the matter in a two-hour phone call on Friday. In that conversation, Chinese President Xi Jinping explicitly warned that “those who play with fire will get burned”.
Now, the question in everyone’s mind is whether we will soon see the Ukraine situation repeated in Taiwan due to provocations from the West. Ukraine and Taiwan, however, are very different. Taiwan is an extension of China in terms of culture and language, and almost every country in the world has accepted the Chinese policy of ‘One China’. That is to say, Taiwan has been accepted as an autonomous government, not as an independent country separate from China.
Beijing’s government follows the policy of unifying Taiwan and Mainland China. But what matters is whether Beijing will pursue this goal militarily, politically, or culturally. Apparently, the Chinese officials have no desire to go down military routes. Rather, they seek to gain so much power and influence and make the notion of unified China so appealing to the Taiwanese that the supporters of reunification would be able to seize power in domestic elections.
Despite being aware of Beijing’s extreme sensitivity over the One China policy, Washington is trying to exploit Taiwan’s position to exert pressure on Beijing in its international competition. Taiwan has several important features that would help the U.S.
First of all, Taiwan is immediately adjacent to China. Should the military forces of the U.S. or the West be deployed there, it would be an ace in the hand of the West to play against China.
Taiwan’s second advantage is that it is now considered a global hub of the Integrated Circuit (IC) industry due to its advancement in IC technologies in the past. The Chinese need Taiwan’s IC technologies to further develop their Artificial Intelligence technologies. On the other, the Americans also wish to use Taiwan to get ahead of their Chinese competition in this field.
Another reason why Taiwan is important for the West is that they potentially can make Taiwan transition to a sort of Liberal Democracy to contrast with the Communist government of China, which is exactly what the West wanted to do in Ukraine.
Knowing this, Beijing has sternly and explicitly warned against Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, especially since no American official as high as the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has ever traveled to Taiwan. To make the matters worse, the American officials normally take U.S. army aircraft to travel abroad, meaning that Pelosi’s trip will entail the possibility of the aircraft of the U.S. army flying over the Taiwan Strait. That is simply intolerable for the Chinese since it would be construed as a show of force on the part of the U.S.
However, considering the potential repercussions of the trip and strong warnings given by China, it was no surprise that both sides tried to avert a crisis and deescalate. After talking with his Chinese counterpart, U.S. President Joe Biden even said that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now”.
In short, both sides and especially Joe Biden, who is not doing well in domestic polls, understandably do not consider it to be in their best interests to increase tensions in the current situation, leading to Pelosi not taking a trip to Taiwan.