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Nancy Pelosi’s private legacy – a go to that can strengthen or threaten Taiwan

The controversial visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the American Parliament (Congress) Nancy Pelosi to Taipei caused a storm of indignation in Beijing, but also criticism in Washington itself, where military strategists, including the top of President Biden’s administration, expressed reservations: is it a wise move, especially when it comes to timing.

Namely, Pelosi’s visit came just one day after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army holiday and only a few months before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, at which the new party and state leadership should be elected.

That is why the visit can be interpreted not only as a gauntlet thrown in the face of the political leadership in Beijing in terms of threatening its territorial integrity and sovereignty over Taiwan, but also as a political slap that can seriously threaten the personal reputation of Chinese leaders at a very sensitive moment when they are facing new elections. and thus cause a strong and potentially fatal reaction.

Nancy Pelosi, who is accused of endangering Taiwan’s existence in her desire to support it, met with President Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwanese parliamentarians in Taipei, and in her media appearances on the Pacific island repeatedly expressed her support and admiration for Taiwanese democracy.

In the island capital, where she was generally hailed as a kind of brave female hero who resisted Beijing’s pressure, she also spoke to more prominent Chinese dissidents, including those who defied Beijing’s authorities in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and those who fight for democracy and media freedom in Hong Kong.

Pelosi also had a meeting with Mark Liu, the head of the largest Taiwanese semiconductor company TSMC, which the Americans are trying to persuade to open new plants in their country for chips that are in short supply in the world, and reduce deliveries of that strategic product to China, which in the modern world it finds application in everything from smartphones and computers, through cars, household appliances to rockets and drones.

TSMC is, in fact, the largest company in the world in terms of property value, surpassing such well-known giants as “Intel” and “Samsung” according to that parameter, and after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, Washington adopted a policy of economic and technological separation from geopolitical rivals Russia and China, in which advanced technologies with military applications, such as high-quality semiconductors that are mainly produced in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, occupy a special place.

The parliamentary delegation led by Nesni Pelosi includes US congressmen in charge of foreign affairs and intelligence affairs, which also speaks to the character of her trip to the countries and regions of Southeast and East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Japan).

Washington’s political duplicity?

As the moment approached for the arrival of Nancy Pelosi in Taipei, Beijing, where her visit is perceived as a gross violation of Chinese sovereignty and malicious interference in China’s internal political problems, the military was put on alert and its naval forces were directed to take up positions around Taiwan, on six locations, where they will practice live ammunition for five days starting from the fourth of July.

It is, practically, a kind of simulation of the environment and the naval blockade of that island where the majority of the population is of ethnic Chinese origin – a decisive measure aimed at stopping the trend of political strengthening of Taiwan’s de facto independence.

Because the United States formally recognizes Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, but in practice they have been arming that island for many years and encouraging it economically and politically in its effort to separate as much as possible from mother China.

For example, during the eight-year administration of President Barack Obama, the US sold arms worth 14 billion US dollars to Taiwan, while the administration of former President Trump in just four years in the White House concluded contracts with Taipei for the delivery of weapons weighing 18 billion greenbacks.

In January 2021, in the final days of the Trump administration, then-Secretary of State (Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo announced that self-imposed legal barriers preventing visits by high-ranking US officials to Taiwan had been removed.

In the same year, the inauguration of the new American president, Joseph Biden, was attended by the Taiwanese diplomatic representative in Washington, who practically performs the function of an unofficial ambassador.

It was the first time that a Taiwanese diplomatic representative had been invited to the inauguration of a US president – an act that analysts specializing in East Asia assessed as something to be interpreted as a de facto recognition of Taiwan’s independence and a step towards future de jure recognition.

Furthermore, in a recent visit to Japan at the end of May, President Biden stated that his country would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China’s motherland.

He later explained that the US still recognizes that there is only one China, the one represented by the authorities based in Beijing, but opposes the military occupation of Taiwan – a statement that certainly did not appease the political elite of the world’s most populous country, which is clear that Washington is doing everything it can. it is in his power to prevent the peaceful reintegration of Taiwan.

Moreover, just last week, a delegation of Japanese parliamentarians was in Taiwan, including two former defense ministers.

This political context indicates to Beijing that there is an ongoing action by the US and its allies to politically and militarily support Taiwan as an independent state, so it is understandable that the Chinese leadership feels that this trend must be stopped or hindered by decisive diplomatic and military action, as which are President Xi’s recent warning to his American counterpart that whoever plays with fire will also get burned by the demonstrative encirclement of Taiwan that is now underway.

The political weight of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei

Of course, it can be considered that through the announcements of Nancy Pelosi’s trip that were made in advance and the publication of the US military’s concerns about it, and the relatively reduced media coverage in the sense that she was not followed in large numbers by American journalists, Washington tried to mitigate the consequences of her visit Taiwan.

The government spokesman in Washington emphasized that Pelosi belongs to the legislative branch, not the executive branch, which is also a kind of attempt to distance the Biden administration from its actions.

And criticism from Republicans who accused Pelosi of unnecessarily raising tensions in relations with Beijing, in which they pointed out that the 82-year-old lady, whose term expires in January next year, took a risky trip to Taiwan out of a selfish desire to enroll in the historical annals, fit well into the American narrative that seeks to diminish the significance of her gesture.

Despite this, the interpretation that they are more inclined to in China is possible, according to which the fact that the political and military elite in Washington relatively distanced themselves from her visit is actually a skillful diplomatic maneuver, with which they want to somewhat appease (or deceive) Beijing in order to simultaneously ” pushed through” what is the real goal of the US government, which is to politically support the defacto independence of Taiwan.

In addition, we should take into account the fact that Nancy Pelosi is a prominent member of the ruling Democratic Party for many years and a party friend of President Biden, and the person who, according to the US Constitution, in the event that the president and vice president are prevented from performing their duties, comes to the helm of the country, which her gives special weight to the visit to Taiwan, despite attempts from Washington to minimize its importance or mitigate its impact.

In Beijing, therefore, there is serious concern that Pelosi’s visit to Taipei could in the future encourage other Western countries to send their high-ranking parliamentary and government officials to Taiwan and thus practically demonstrate, that is, contribute to the realization of its de facto independence.

Also, we should not lose sight of the mentioned fact that Pelosi met in Taipei with the manager of the largest Taiwanese chip manufacturer TMSC, which supplies Apple and is building a new factory in Arizona for the needs of the American market, which is an essential commodity in today’s society.

In recent years, the shortage of chips has hindered the economic growth of economies around the globe, and Taiwanese companies produce about half of that strategic item in the world, so Washington, for both economic and security reasons, is vitally interested in ensuring that Taiwanese chips pass into Chinese hands as little as possible. that is, that their sales should be redirected to a greater extent in the USA.

Just these days, the American government, as part of a huge financial package dedicated to the development of the chip industry and science, approved subsidies for the opening of new domestic chip factories in the amount of as much as 52 billion dollars.

As part of that effort, it is also offering large tax and other investment incentives to foreign, primarily Taiwanese and South Korean, companies that make semiconductors, but on the condition that they renounce the transfer of their technology to China.

What does tomorrow bring?

Although the concentration of military forces in a limited area can always lead to mistakes and unintended consequences, analysts in East Asia believe that once the show of force currently carried out in the vicinity of Taiwan by the People’s Liberation Army of China, which was practically forced by the visit of Nancy Pelosi, rationally speaking, in a shorter the term is likely to be followed by detente. This is because neither the motherland China, nor the USA (as well as Taiwan) at this moment would not be comfortable with a military conflict. At the end of this year, elections for the upper and lower houses of parliament (for Congress and the Senate) are being held in the USA, and President Biden’s popularity is falling while inflation is spreading in the country. On the other hand, a party congress is also coming up in China, where it will be decided whether President Xi Jinping’s term as head of state and party will be extended, and the Chinese economy is suffering due to the frequent lockdowns of cities due to the epidemic of the new corona virus.

However, even if there is a short-term easing of tensions, it is clear that the current trend in relations between China and the US is generally dangerous – that Washington is trying to isolate Beijing politically and economically as much as possible from other countries in the region, to limit its access to cutting-edge technologies and to through deepening military-political alliances with the states of the region and arming them militarily, as well as that Beijing, on the other hand, seeks to strengthen its navy and other military forces and to project military power on Taiwan and beyond its shores.

The American media is increasingly buzzing about a possible upcoming military conflict between their country and China, which could occur in the near future precisely because of Taiwan or the South China Sea, a large part of which Beijing claims territorial rights to, and which Washington and its allies oppose. .

It also seems that there is a growing awareness among the Chinese public that after Russia it is their country’s turn, that is, that the USA and its allies will subject Beijing to increasingly strong political and military provocations and economic exhaustion with sanctions in the coming years, which will ultimately lead to war.

Nancy Pelosi’s visit, as an act that can be interpreted as strengthening American support for Taiwan’s de facto independence, could deepen this sometimes dark, fatalistic mood that the East Asian region is consciously but unstoppably sliding into a war between major powers with unfathomable consequences for the world economy. .

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