Opinion Is Pelosi's visit to Taiwan a risk? Yes, but she can deliver strong messages to China.

20:11  02 august  2022
20:11  02 august  2022 Source:   usatoday.com

Taiwan holds drills amid Pelosi visit concern, China tension

  Taiwan holds drills amid Pelosi visit concern, China tension BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan’s capital staged air raid drills Monday and its military mobilized for routine defense exercises, coinciding with concerns over a forceful Chinese response to a possible visit to the island by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. While there was no direct link between China’s renewed threats and Taiwan’s defensive moves, they underscore the possibility of a renewed crisis in the Taiwan Strait, considered a potential hotspot for conflict that could envelop the entire region.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has touched down at the center of one of the most problematic diplomatic sites in the world with her visit on Tuesday in Taiwan. The California Democrat has prompted concern from the Biden administration that her visit may exacerbate the situation.

With all the buzz over Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, however, we are failing to focus on an equally important issue: What she could usefully say and do while there to bolster U.S. interests and set the tone for greater stability in the region.

What's the background on Pelosi's visit to Taiwan?

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China vows 'consequences' if Pelosi visits Taiwan

  China vows 'consequences' if Pelosi visits Taiwan The Chinese military says it will not sit idly by if the US Speaker visits the self-governing island democracy.On Monday, China warned of "serious consequences" if Nancy Pelosi were to proceed with a visit to Taiwan in the coming weeks.

A democracy since 1996

First, a quick review of the historical context: Taiwan is an autonomous government of 23 million people 100 miles off the coast of China. Since 1949 it has been governed largely by the losing side in the Chinese civil war that brought the Communists to power in Beijing. A democracy since 1996, it is a prosperous nation that makes the majority of the world’s best semiconductors. China claims it as a sovereign territory. The people of Taiwan have mixed views but clearly and strongly prefer their current self-governance to any near-term merger with the mainland.

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The United States shifted its diplomatic recognition of China to the mainland in 1979, because neither Beijing nor Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, would tolerate that we recognize them both.

Speaker Pelosi should go to Taiwan

  Speaker Pelosi should go to Taiwan House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may have been unwise to plan a visit to Taiwan in August. Regardless, now that Pelosi’s intended trip has been made public, the speaker must follow through with it. Pelosi’s responsibility bears note in light of escalating Chinese threats against any visit. Chinese officials have even suggested that their response might entail a military component. These threats demand attention. Still, to now cancel this visit would signal American hesitation in support of our most sacrosanct principle: human freedom.

Although it was probably a smart realpolitik decision, many Americans saw it as a betrayal of our non-communist partner and, as such, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which guaranteed we would take a special interest in that democracy's well-being.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has touch downed at the center of one of the most problematic diplomatic sites in the world with her visit on Tuesday in Taiwan. © Provided by USA TODAY House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has touch downed at the center of one of the most problematic diplomatic sites in the world with her visit on Tuesday in Taiwan.

This does not mean we would necessarily defend it in time of war, however. Although President Joe Biden has said that we would do so unambiguously, official U.S. policy still says that it depends on the circumstances. Our strong preference, of course, is that the issue will be resolved by Beijing and Taipei peacefully.

Pelosi's lesson on power: 'Nobody's going to give it to you. You've got to take it.'

During her visit, the House speaker can usefully make three points:

Pelosi to Taiwan would be career capstone, despite warnings

  Pelosi to Taiwan would be career capstone, despite warnings WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched her political career being tough on China -- a new congresswoman who dared to unfurl a pro-democracy banner in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during a 1991 visit with other U.S. lawmakers shortly after the student massacre. More than 30 years later, her interest in traveling to Taiwan presents a powerful diplomatic capstone. It has also contributed to tensions at the highest levels in Washington and Beijing among officials who worry a trip could prove provocative. As the U.S. balances its high-stakes relations with China, whether Pelosi will lead a delegation trip to Taiwan remains unknown.

Stick with the 'One China' policy

►Although former U.S. officials have argued otherwise of late, Pelosi and the Biden administration should underscore publicly that we still acknowledge the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China. Anything else would be extremely provocative to Beijing and risky.

Today, Taiwan nearly has it all – autonomy, a strong military, prosperity, democracy and human rights. Admittedly, the people of Taiwan would like to be thought of as part of a country by the international community, and they really are not viewed that way.

To China, Taiwan is like Hawaii or Alaska. And it is not just the communist government but the preponderance of the Chinese people who feel that way. Encouraging Taiwan to seek independence would be a red line that China has repeatedly warned would lead to war.

We need to play for time until the two Chinas can find some formulation, years or decades in the future, that they can both live with – perhaps some form of loose confederation or commonwealth.

Maintain strategic ambiguity for Taiwan and China, but with a twist

►Pelosi also should remind audiences in Taiwan, China and beyond that Washington's commitment to Taipei is conditional, despite recent American experts’ views to the contrary.

Why Speaker Pelosi must go to Taiwan

  Why Speaker Pelosi must go to Taiwan [This piece has been published in Restoring America to highlight why it is important for Speaker Pelosi to follow through on her commitment to visit Taiwan in order to project U.S. strength and resolve.] Beijing is warning of “serious consequences” and “firm and resolute measures” should House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), follow through with her plans to visit Taiwan.The Chinese Communist Party can’t help itself. Like so much of what China has done in the past 10 years or so, these pronouncements only help to bring about the thing that it’s trying to prevent. At this point, Pelosi must visit.

We have no treaty commitment to Taiwan. Some hypothetical Chinese attacks, like certain types of naval blockades, could be so difficult for us to counter that we would also want to think hard about specific options before going to war.

However, it is time to signal one thing clearly to Beijing – and in 2022, after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the message should resonate. If China does use lethal military force against Taiwan, our relationship can never be the same.

She is 8 years old: I ask her what the war in Ukraine is like. 'Terrible,' she says.

The United States would seek to decouple from China economically and otherwise, to a considerable extent, even if that process is slow and difficult and incomplete. And we would bring along as many of our allies in the process, such that China would lose much of its access to the Western world’s wealthy consumers whose purchases have driven China's growth for decades. This promise should be unconditional.

Encourage Taiwan to improve its military operations

►Because no U.S. military response can or should be guaranteed in the event of war, Taiwan needs to do more to defend itself.

Rather than emphasize vulnerable ships and fighter aircraft in its defense posture, Taiwan should buy helicopters, anti-ship missiles that can be hidden in shore batteries, advanced mines that can threaten approaching Chinese ships, and resilient sensors as well as command-and-control networks so that if China attacks, its prospects for success would be mediocre even without U.S. intervention.

China’s Xi Jinping Warns President Joe Biden Against ‘Playing With Fire’ Over Taiwan

  China’s Xi Jinping Warns President Joe Biden Against ‘Playing With Fire’ Over Taiwan Rresidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping had their first phone call since March—lasting more than two hours.Biden and Xi spoke for 2 hours and 17 minutes on a range of topics including pandemic recovery, trade and supply chain resilience. But it was Taiwan that dominated the agenda. “Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi told Biden, according to a Chinese readout of the call. “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.

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Taiwan also needs to stockpile key commodities, essentials such as medicine and food to withstand a protracted naval blockade and buy time for diplomacy.

With these messages, to go along with her warmth and support, Pelosi can perhaps make her trip to Taiwan of net benefit to the goal of a stable and safe Western-Pacific region.

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is author of "The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Strategy and Resolute Restraint." Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelEOHanlon

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is Pelosi's visit to Taiwan a risk? Yes, but she can deliver strong messages to China.

Joe Biden To Make Most Important Call of Presidency to China's Xi Jinping .
The leaders of the two major powers will talk over existing frictions as well as new uncertainties thrown up by Nancy Pelosi's travel plans.The competitive nature of the contemporary relationship has left many fearing a mishap in Asia, one that could spark a wider conflict with global consequences. Crisis management between the two militaries therefore will be high on the agenda for the talks, their fifth in the last 18 months and the latest since March.

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