What the U.S. lost from Pelosi’s Taiwan trip

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What the U.S. lost from Pelosi’s Taiwan trip

The author is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Twelve days after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, five members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives visited Taiwan. Democratic Senator Ed Mark is the chair of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He said, “I’m traveling to Taiwan with a bipartisan congressional delegation to reaffirm U.S. support for Taiwan and encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.” But his words sounded empty because at least the current crisis is largely the result of Pelosi’s visit.

Regarding the ongoing crisis, the United States has been pushed back in the fight for justification with China. Based on the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the U.S. in 1978, China repeatedly stressed that the United States had agreed to only pursue cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with Taiwan. China says that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan violates the agreement as it is a national-level visit.

The U.S. lacks grounds to refute that argument. The White House avoided blame by saying that the decision to visit Taiwan was up to Pelosi due to the separation of powers. Shortly after arriving in Taiwan, Pelosi said that President Xi Jinping ignored human rights and the rule of law, but she could not refute China’s claim that she had ignored the agreement. In the end, she gave an excuse to China for conducting an unprecedented “blockade drill” to block Taiwan’s major sea routes and ports.

The climax of China’s show of power was the launch of a ballistic missile over Taiwan. Nevertheless, the Taiwanese defense ministry made an unconvincing statement that it did not issue a defense warning because there was no airspace threat as it flew out of the atmosphere. The Taiwan Strait is constantly invaded. As the U.S. Congressional delegation visited Taiwan, 10 Chinese fighters crossed the midline in the strait. According to the People’s Liberation Army Daily, J-20 Chinese stealth fighters are flying to areas inaccessible before the Taiwan Strait crisis. China is eager to use the momentum and break the boundaries.

China revealed its true intention in its third white paper on Taiwan, which was published in 22 years. While “peaceful unification and one-country, two-system” is being advocated, the next priority is unification by force. In past white papers, the mainland promised not to station troops in Taiwan, but that has disappeared in the latest version.

Unification with Taiwan is the biggest political challenge declared by President Xi. China may be rather thankful to Pelosi for providing a justification for unification. The U.S. seems to be getting ready for a counterattack. The confrontational situation in the Taiwan Strait is becoming more intense.
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