Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan has ignited tensions between China and the United States, with China enraged at foreign intervention in what they perceive as an internal affair. Atul Singh, founder of Fair Observer, and Glenn Carle, a former CIA Deputy National Intelligence Officer, examine the controversy surrounding Pelosi’s trip and the implications it holds.
The US’s longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan’s status has become increasingly uncertain. President Biden’s (ostensibly unintentional) messaging has implied a greater willingness for military intervention in defense of the island than overt policy would officially commit to.
China relies heavily on international shipping lanes that could easily be choked in the event of war. It perceives itself as encircled by adversaries, with the US aligning with Taiwan and several other neighbors against its interests. The rise of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, which openly questions the One China Principle, adds to Beijing’s anxiety. Meanwhile, China’s nationalist sentiment and growing military capabilities enable an assertive posturing in the Taiwan Straits.
Pelosi’s visit, with the stated goal of reinforcing global norms and supporting Taiwan, made global headlines. However, as Glenn suggests, the timing may have been ill-advised: the US’s position is clear enough, and is not aided by an unnecessary public insult to the Chinese leader. Neither should the US put so much pressure on China that it is induced to cooperate with Russia. So far, China has been more or less indifferent to Putin’s pleas for help in Ukraine, and we should aim to keep things that way.
Atul and Glenn wrap up with a discussion of President Xi’s place in Chinese history, comparing him with his more prudent predecessor Deng Xiaoping. Xi’s imperial ambitions may be leading him on a collision course with the US, with disastrous results for either or both of the great nations. The country has very little experience in extending itself as far as it is doing now, and it will need to proceed carefully.
[Anton Schauble wrote the first draft of this piece.]
The views expressed in this article/podcast are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.