China-Taiwan Crises Escalate Over Nancy Pelosi’s Visit
OpenLife Nigeria reports that United States House Speaker , Nancy Pelosi and several other members of Congress landed in Taipei late on Tuesday for a much anticipated visit that prompted China’s military to announce “targeted” military operations in the seas and airspace surrounding the island.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit Taiwan since Speaker Newt Gingrich last visited in 1997.
Several delegations of senior U.S. and European lawmakers have also made trips to Taipei in recent years.
She was received at Taipei’s Songshan Airport by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S.’s de facto embassy on the island.
The stop in Taiwan was not featured in the official itinerary of a sweep through Asia by the 82-year-old lawmaker. A spokesperson for Taiwan’s presidential office said Pelosi would meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday morning, followed by a lunch. Taiwan’s official news agency said Pelosi would visit Taiwan’s parliament the same day.
“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi’s delegation said in a statement after she landed. “Our visit is one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan — and it in no way contradicts long-standing United States policy… The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said the visit was a serious violation of the “One China” principle, which is Beijing’s view that it has sovereignty over the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
“It has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said in a statement. “It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence.’ China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious demarche and strong protest to the United States.”
China’s Defense Ministry said Beijing would launch a series of “targeted military operations” to counteract Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said immediately after Pelosi landed that it would conduct a series of military operations around Taiwan. It said it would conduct joint air and sea exercises around Taiwan, and conduct long-range, live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.
“The action is a serious deterrent against the recent escalation of the U.S. negative moves on the Taiwan issue and a serious warning to the ‘independence’ forces seeking ‘independence,’ it said.
The Global Times, a Communist Party of China mouthpiece, said the People’s Liberation Army will conduct important military exercises and training activities including live-fire drills in six areas around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
The U.S. military had moved assets, including aircraft carriers and large planes, near Taiwan — an island democracy that has never been ruled by Communist China. Beijing views it as its own and refuses to rule out a military invasion.
Pelosi’s trip rattled Beijing even before it was confirmed. Chinese state TV said People’s Liberation Army Su-35 fighter jets were flying over the Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi’s arrival.
In a call last week, China’s President Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden not to “play with fire” over Taiwan. Beijing has in recent months dialed up military and economic pressure on Taiwan.
And on Tuesday, the Global Times posted a comment on Twitter, saying: “This is a Taiwan Strait version of the Cuban missile crisis. The U.S. is the provocateur. The world is watching whether Pelosi will pull the trigger with her own hands.”
In June, Nikkei reported that President Tsai’s government was unimpressed with Biden’s remarks about defending Taiwan due to concern that such statements might provoke Beijing’s aggression. But earlier on Tuesday, Taipei 101, the island’s tallest building, was lit up with a message welcoming Pelosi.
The tour takes place amid “intensifying strategic competition between the U.S. and China in which Taiwan has become the most contentious issue,” according to a paper by Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank.
“China’s rapid military modernization and more assertive military posture in the region have heightened concerns in the U.S. about the threat that China poses to Taiwan.”
The symbolic and political value of the visit is seen as much higher than any concrete benefits for Taiwan. At most, it will help members of the U.S. Congress understand Taiwan’s views more clearly, which could influence discussions of bills related to Taiwan’s defense capabilities.
“Taipei is likely to see the importance of implementing Pelosi’s plans as defined less by the gains created by a single visit, and more by the accumulated benefits that arise from gradually normalizing Taipei’s exchanges with countries with whom it does not have official ties,” ICG said, referring to an increasing number of officials from the U.S. and Europe visiting the island.
Taiwan’s government is likely concerned that canceling the visit because of Beijing’s threats could have a chilling effect on the momentum gained in recent years, the think tank said.
Pelosi started her Asia tour in Singapore on Monday, and visited Malaysia on Tuesday. She will go on to South Korea and Japan. A statement at the weekend said the delegation would discuss trade, the pandemic, climate change, security and “democratic governance.”
Meanwhile, China has slapped a ban on thousands of Taiwanese food imports, from fruit and vegetables to cookies and baby food.
The ban came as a result of the visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.
The unconfirmed trip by the highest-ranking U.S. official in a quarter century — and China’s reaction to it — have sent regional tensions soaring and plunged Sino-U. S. relations into the deep freeze, as fears grow over a possible military response by Beijing.
Source: Nikkei Asia