The government of Xi Jinping, which seeks to annex Taiwan, considers the visit of the speaker of the American House of Representatives as a provocation. Beijing has since planned to engage in “targeted military actions” in the Taiwan region.
"We come as friends to Taiwan, we come in peace to the region." Nancy Pelosi's sentence, pronounced on the tarmac of the Taiwan airport where her plane landed on Tuesday, August 2, sounds like wishful thinking. The visit to the island by the 82-year-old speaker of the US House of Representatives is actually accompanied by renewed military and diplomatic tensions between China, Taiwan and the United States.
The week before her visit, Beijing had warned Washington: any trip by Nancy Pelosi to the island on the occasion of her Asian tour would be seen as a provocation. Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, had called his American counterpart, inviting him "not to play with fire".
While treading the ground of the disputed island of the Pacific, Nancy Pelosi endeavored to spare Beijing and Taiwan. She thus declared that her visit showed the “unconditional support” of the United States “for the democratic dynamics of Taiwan”, but clarified that this trip does not “contradict” American policy with regard to China.
"The United States continues to oppose any effort to change the status quo" on the island, she added. In Taiwan, officials welcome a visit attesting to the “unshakeable” support of the United States. Nancy Pelosi is the most important American representative to visit the island since 1997.
Russia invites itself into the debate
In response, Xi Jinping's government announced "targeted military actions", the objective of which would be to "resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity and firmly thwart external interference and separatist attempts to independence of Taiwan".
Russia has also invited itself into the debate. On Tuesday evening, the Kremlin's foreign ministry said Pelosi's visit to Taiwan was an "obvious provocation", calling on Beijing to take measures to "protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity".
Taiwan is the subject of special diplomatic attention from the United States. The island has had its own government since 1949, which China does not recognize.
Beijing regularly threatens to invade Taiwan, especially since Xi Jinping made the unification of China his top priority. As for the United States, they maintain an ambiguous position on the subject: Washington recognizes only one Chinese government, based in Beijing, but nevertheless supports Taipei in the event of a crisis.
Author: Michael Zippo