World The strategic case against Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan
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.
[This piece has been published in Restoring America to consider how House Speaker Pelosi's planned trip to Taiwan might hurt the U.S.'s global standing and ability to counter China.]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, (D-CA), planned trip to Taiwan is a Rorschach test for U.S.-China watchers. Some believe Pelosi should cancel the visit because the United States should generally avoid actions that worsen tensions with China. Others argue that Pelosi should go because Washington should not back down in anticipation of pressure from Beijing.
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.
But this overlooks a critical strategic debate: whether this is the right time or topic for a crisis. Even from the perspective of a supporter of Taiwan and frequent critic of Beijing, conducting this visit now appears unwise.
I have argued that the United States can and. Crises may not be desirable, but if carefully managed they can help build support both domestically and internationally. Unfortunately, Pelosi’s trip violates this strategic logic in three ways.
First, the timing of this trip is poor. Some who believe a crisis with China is inevitable argue that a near-term crisis might be advisable if it does not escalate into a larger conflict. These observers note that Xi Jinping’s preparations for the upcoming Party Congress could deter him from launching a major escalation. In other words, they suggest that this might be the best time for a crisis because it would put a ceiling on China’s willingness to escalate.
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.
Unfortunately, although the upcoming Party Congress could put a ceiling on China’s advertent escalation, it also establishes a floor. With Chinese leaders meeting now at Beidaihe and the Party Congress just months away, Xi will have to demonstrate resolve. Some sort of forceful Chinese response is inevitable, and there are real risks of accidental or inadvertent escalation.
The situation would have been somewhat different in April, when Pelosi first planned to visit Taiwan. At that time, Beijing had less time to prepare its response options. The Party Congress was four months further away. Joe Biden had not yet muddied the waters by suggesting the United States has a commitment to defend Taiwan. And Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper had not yet traveled to Taipei and suggested doing away with the “one China” policy.
So the timing of this visit puts the United States in a difficult strategic position.
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.
Second, Pelosi’s trip is intended to enhance deterrence but could actually undermine it. To deter China, the United States needs to demonstrate commitment and strengthen its military capabilities as well as those of Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit has no impact on American or Taiwanese military capabilities, yet it could end up undermining perceptions of US resolve.
How might Pelosi’s trip lead Beijing to question US resolve? Just two months ago, Joe Biden effectively committed to coming to Taiwan’s defense. Critics will debate the wisdom of his statement, but this crisis now places him in opposition to the top member of Congress of his own party. This is hardly the recipe for building consensus or signaling enhanced US commitment.
So the domestic political dynamics of this visit could undermine deterrence.
Finally, Pelosi’s trip may divide the United States from key allies and partners. Crises can be useful if they inspire greater international cooperation and drive resources accordingly. But US allies and partners have thus far been silent on Pelosi’s visit. This despite the recent tendency of allies in both Asia and Europe to publicly endorse peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
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.
Indeed, informal conversations with foreign officials and experts suggest that few are supportive of Pelosi’s visit and most would tend to blame the United States for precipitating a crisis. They see a pattern of recent US actions by a variety of leaders as undermining the cross-strait status quo. American leaders will rightfully argue that China should not escalate by creating a military crisis, but these arguments are likely to fall on deaf ears in most foreign capitals.
So the international reaction to this visit could weaken US coalition-building efforts.
For all these reasons, this is not the right time nor topic for a crisis with China. Pelosi’s trip has substantial downside risk, yet little upside. The Chinese response to her visit could precipitate a Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis. And this one could undermine not only cross-strait stability, but also the growing domestic and international consensus around challenging China and supporting Taiwan.
Not all crises are avoidable or even inadvisable. But this one is unusually risky from a strategic perspective. Given the increasingly heated political rhetoric on this issue, Pelosi is unlikely to back down. But leaders in Washington may well regret allowing this crisis to emerge. All sides will have to work hard in coming weeks to prevent this century’s eruption of the guns of August.
Trump spy chief says Biden 'mismanaged' Pelosi's Asia trip
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe criticized the Biden administration for its handling of speculation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will visit Taiwan despite warnings by China. The Trump-era spy chief argued Chinese President Xi Jinping is capitalizing on President Joe Biden's "weakness" as Beijing and its mouthpieces in the media threatened severe consequences if Pelosi ends up visiting Taiwan, which China claims as its territory."It's been mismanaged.
This article originally appeared in the AEIdeas blog and is reprinted with kind permission from the American Enterprise Institute.
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Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan Visit: Chinese Military to Conduct Drills Around Taiwan .
The White House warns China not to use the trip as a "pretext to increase aggressive military activity" near Taiwan.Before arriving in Taiwan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped in Malaysia.