Nancy Pelosi’s looming Taiwan trip is a high-risk, high-reward

Nancy Pelosi’s looming Taiwan trip is a high – The largest test of Chinese and American determination over Taiwan in more than three decades will result if US House Speaker presses forward with a trip to Taipei this week, placing tremendous pressure on the two most powerful men in the world.

Nancy Pelosi's looming Taiwan trip is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that

Nancy Pelosi’s looming Taiwan trip is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that

Pelosi, who is third in line for the president, is travelling across Asia; her stops include Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan.

Although she hasn’t mentioned Taiwan in the media, a brief stay is generally anticipated.

Pelosi, perhaps the most powerful woman in US politics, is planning the trip to see her host, Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen, who is the most prominent person in the Chinese-speaking world.

According to Taiwan’s leadership, the trip is a much-needed demonstration of solidarity from Washington against the backdrop of growing diplomatic and military pressure from China on the independent island.

However, it has unintentionally exposed the differences at the top of the American government about how to handle China’s most delicate problem.

Joe Biden, the US President and Pelosi’s party leader, isn’t even ready to openly support his Democratic colleague’s trip.

As a result, with the US President mainly absent, Pelosi and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s legacy-building has been the catalyst for the current crisis.

While Pelosi’s tenure as president is coming to an end, Xi is hopeful that this year marks the start of a second decade in office.

‘It’s her last chance’

At 82 years old, Pelosi’s probable trip is considered as a way to wrap out a human rights-focused career that began with her raising a flag in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 31 years ago.

She has consistently the Chinese government for many years and frequently supports the more hawkish voices in the US over Taiwan.

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According to David Smith of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, “She wants to do this now because it’s her only opportunity.”

Given her age of 82, it is very possible that she will lose her position as Speaker of the House of Representatives if the Republicans win the midterm elections this year and regain control of the chamber.

Dr. Smith pointed out that while the White House could not control her travel plans, they might put pressure on her to cancel them.

Nancy Pelosi may have received a warning from Joe Biden’s White House that her visit to Taiwan might exacerbate relations between the US and China. By Jonathan Ernst of Reuters

“I believe there will be a great talk about how the Biden administration is backing down and being humiliated,” he added if she decides against travelling to Taiwan.

Taiwanese leader making bold moves

President Tsai Ing-wen has been the other driving factor behind the trip, with Taiwan’s administration remaining quiet about the potential visit in public.

This year, she has been quite busy on the diplomatic front, welcoming delegations of US senators, and senior retired officials.

She welcomed former prime minister Tony Abbott last year and met with two former Australian ministers, Christopher and Kevin Andrews, only last week.

Despite having no intentions to formally declare independence, Tsai is frequently ridiculed and despised in Chinese official media as a “separatist.”

Therefore, Chinese nationalists would become enraged at the sight of her and Pelosi together and demand a severe response.

According to Sow Keat Tok of the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne, “it would be a show of solidarity for Taiwan.”

“Anything of that nature would be a win for Tsai Ing-wen, and it would unquestionably be a tremendous smack in the face for Beijing.

“Xi has built a narrative that China has already advanced, so a visit would be a lot larger affront now than it was in the 1990s, 25 years ago when the previous house speaker came.

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especially given that he presents himself as the nation of China’s great defender.

It’s unlikely that the trip would have generated as much controversy if Pelosi had travelled in April as initially scheduled.

According to Tsai-wen is also the primary motivation for Ms. Pelosi’s prospective visit. Annabelle of Reuters

The Chinese government vehemently denounced it, but there was no vehement discussion of catching up with or even shooting down her jet.

Her visit was ultimately cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test.

However, the early disclosure of the revised trip’s itinerary—including by some Biden administration officials who were against the visit—presented a fantastic chance for Xi to prick US rifts.

China’s leader cannot afford to seem weak at home.

Xi’s tricky path ahead

He is dealing with some unhappiness about the unending and onerous COVID-zero policy and a faltering Chinese economy.

Joe Biden was recently admonished by Xi Jinping not to “play with fire” with Taiwan.
Darrin Zammit of Reuters

But behind closed doors, he’s also engaged in a political conflict.

Xi is a few months away from likely securing a third term in office after spending his decade in power fostering Chinese nationalism and bolstering the nation’s fast expanding military capabilities.

Despite his skill in controlling public protest, it’s improbable that his ground-breaking attempt to maintain power hasn’t generated some opposition within the Communist Party and maybe the military.

The probable sighting of two ladies in Taipei who have long been the targets of harsh criticism from his propaganda agency shows how little progress Xi has achieved in further isolating the island.

For all the military rhetoric he’s promoted— “Get ready for battle! Ahead of battle! At any time, we are prepared “One headline this week shouted, “Xi has failed despite all the military exercises he has ordered, including four live-fire drills this week.”

Nancy Pelosi has confirmed a tour to Asia, however she omitted Taiwan from the itinerary when she announced the trip. Andy Wong of AP

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He has been unable to persuade significant foreign nations to separate themselves diplomatically from Taipei.

A senior American congressional delegation that continues to ignore warnings to stay away from Taiwan would counteract his prior success in luring away lesser diplomatic friends from Taiwan.

According to Dr.”China is losing the diplomatic and public relations games, and they are absolutely losing their effort to win Taiwanese people’s hearts and minds.”

Therefore, China is gradually gaining the upper hand militarily even if I believe they are losing the game for a peaceful takeover.

And that will undoubtedly increase the likelihood of confrontation.

Some observers think the most serious crisis since the US sent three carrier battle groups into the Taiwan Strait in 1996 to prevent Chinese missile testing might arise from China’s harsh words and military exercises in reaction to the trip.

The majority of observers believe that Xi does not now want a fight or confrontation, despite the fact that he frequently uses combative rhetoric and conducts military exercises in state media.

Dr. Sow Keat Tok isn’t so certain, though.

“It’s very simple to write it off as sabre rattling, but when it comes to the crunch, and nobody really knows when that crunch is, it may not be sabre rattling,” he added.

Common sense dictates that we tend to disregard it and believe China is bluffing, but I believe it’s time we started taking China’s remarks seriously.

Nancy Pelosi has long been critical of China’s leadership. Elizabeth Frantz, Reuters

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