China responds forcefully after Pelosi lands in Taiwan
- We have entered the fourth Taiwan crisis, as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed at the Taipei Songshan Airport last night. This time, the situation is very different from the previous three. China has become a much stronger power, and there is no sign that its relationship with the U.S. could bounce back soon. Although peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue remains what Beijing favors the most, China now has fewer reasons to cool the Taiwan tensions like before. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has pushed China-U.S. relations into a new era.
- After being a redline underlying bilateral relations for more than two decades, the Taiwan issue returned to the spotlight of China-U.S. relations. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said (Zh/En) that the visit “seriously violates the one-China principle, maliciously infringes on China's sovereignty, and blatantly engages in political provocations.” In the statement, Wang said the U.S. “first provoked China on the Taiwan question,” paving the way for further actions over Taiwan.
- The People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced three-day live ammunition military exercises around Taiwan from August 4, when Pelosi is expected to have left the island. The war games will be conducted close to the major ports of the island.
- The PLA is likely to cross the so-called “median line” of the Taiwan Strait again and impose more pressure on Taipei than in 1996. Chinese warplanes have been passing the sensitive line since 2020, and the last time such operation was reported was in May this year. Beijing has never acknowledged the line, but frequently touching it could signal upgraded defense efforts in the region.
- By the time Pelosi’s plane touched down, the U.S. had deployed four navy ships to the east of Taiwan, including an aircraft carrier. Such deployment might have helped prevent a U.S.-China warplane encounter as it heightened the risks of that. It is in both Beijing’s and the U.S. administration’s interest to avoid a further deteriorated situation.
- But the side effects of the standoff could be significant, and the world would feel the pain. The tensions have raised the risks in the Strait that bears the traffic of 88% of the world’s largest container ships. Also, any military escalation around Taiwan, one of the powerhouses of semiconductor manufacturing, would be a blow to the global tech industry.
- For Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the challenges would start with the economy. Beijing Tuesday banned thousands of food imports from 35 Taiwanese companies. Many Taiwanese would blame Taipei for trading off their livelihoods for a security promise that has not been seriously tested. But what could also be the case is people in Taiwan becoming more anti-Beijing. This is what Beijing has to bear in mind.
- But with no military incident happening during Pelosi’s trip, it looks like the tensions have been brought under control. Despite the furiousness, Beijing has not yet concluded that the U.S. has “abandoned” its “one-China policy.” With China’s responses unfolding in the coming days or weeks, its attitude of this event would be clearer.