The United States of America has an ambiguous policy when it comes to Taiwan. Washington abides by the One-China Policy, while also dealing extensively with the democratic island nation of Taiwan. Taiwan depends on the United States for much of its defense infrastructure. This has been the case for decades. However, the threats to Taiwan’s security are rising, and the USA’s “strategic ambiguity” is being called into question. To shed its image of being indecisive on the Taiwan front, the United States has been upping the ante against China, or is at least appearing to do so.
China claims the democratic island nation of Taiwan to be a part of the larger Communist mainland and has not ruled out use of forceful ‘military’ means to achieve what it calls a “reunification” of the motherland. In recent times, Washington has increased its security patrols and naval activity across the Taiwan Strait.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the destroyer – USS Benfold – conducted a “routine” Taiwan Strait transit last week through international waters “in accordance with international law”. China was outraged. U.S. naval activity so close to the Chinese mainland, and across a strait that Beijing lays claim on really ruffled the CCP’s feathers. If or when China invades Taiwan, it would involve a major military offensive across the Taiwan Strait.
Therefore, Washington flexing its muscles in the region has got the Communist regime of China quite worked up. A statement by the Peoples Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command said, “The frequent provocations and showing off by the United States fully demonstrate that the United States is a destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and a maker of security risks in the Taiwan Strait.”
In a supposed threat, China added, “Theatre forces remain on high alert at all times and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The U.S. State Department recently also approved the potential sale of “military technical assistance to Taiwan” worth an estimated $108 million. China went on to demand the immediate cancellation of the deal.
Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan
25 years ago, in 1997, Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich travelled to Taiwan. Thereafter, US warmed up to China and trade between the two powers blossomed. 25 years later, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is all set to visit Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to visit Taiwan in August. If the visit goes through, it would be the highest-level delegation travelling from the United States to the democratic and independent island in over two decades
China was quick to respond to the planned visit in a very hostile tone. China’s Foreign Ministry said: “If the US insists on going down the wrong path, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It went on to say, “The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”
Biden Backs Down After Threats
Following the rather ballistic threats from China, Joe Biden appeared to be in the mood to get Pelosi’s scheduled visit postponed, if not cancelled. Biden said last Wednesday that U.S. military officials believe it’s “not a good idea” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan at the moment.
Here’s what the President said: “Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now. But I don’t know what the status of it is.” This appears to be a classic case of Joe Biden firing from the shoulders of the U.S. military. He cannot directly tell Nancy Pelosi to call off her Taiwan visit, since that would reek of explicit cowardice. However, by claiming that the U.S. military is opposed to the visit, Biden might be able to sell the overused “national security” narrative while also not appearing to directly favour China.
Evidently, Joe Biden appears to have buckled under pressure from China. What else explains his subtle push to get Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan derailed? Pelosi, mind you, is a hardcore Democrat and among the most avid supporters of Joe Biden. Yet, Biden seems willing to impede her Taiwan tour only to score some brownie points with Xi Jinping’s regime.
Needless to say, Joe Biden’s cautious warning to Pelosi will only embolden China. The Communist nation will be convinced that tough talk on its part gets the United States to back off. China is already very emboldened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
At a time when the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is rising, the United States under Joe Biden is making a concerted effort to look weak in front of Beijing. You see, Joe Biden is looking to hold a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon. The Biden administration is looking to cut tariffs on Chinese goods as historic inflation rates back home threaten his Presidency
Having Pelosi visit Taiwan at such a time could completely sabotage the Biden administration’s goal of negotiating trade with China. In fact, Jinping could also refuse to speak with Biden over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. With the mid-term polls approaching fast and a Democrat rout seeming imminent, Biden and his officials are desperate to give American citizens some respite from soaring inflation.
Easing tensions with China could prove to be the most effective way of lowering commodity prices in the United States. If that means Taiwan must be abandoned, Joe Biden is more than willing to walk down that road.
Taiwan, meanwhile, is not happy. Johnny Chiang, co-chair of the Taiwanese parliament’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee told Bloomberg, “From Taiwan’s point of view, Biden’s comments don’t make us feel good. We feel hurt.”
China Bets on Biden’s Cowardice
China has been uncharacteristically aggressive with regards to Nancy Pelosi’s’ visit to Taiwan. According to the House Speaker, the U.S. military is concerned about China shooting down the aircraft carrying the American delegation to Taiwan. To any half-sane geopolitical watcher, that is a misplaced and greatly exaggerated fear on the part of the United States.
China knows what the consequences of shooting an aircraft carrying the United States’ second-most important citizen will be. It would almost certainly trigger an all-out war between Washington and Beijing. On its part, China is simply not in a position to militarily clash with the United States right now.
However, rhetoric of such a potential attack on Pelosi’s aircraft is being treated as real by the Biden administration, as it gives the White House a readymade excuse to get the House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan cancelled. China has reportedly told the United States in private that a visit by Pelosi to the island nation could meet with a military response.
The Chinese regime’s mouthpiece, Global Times quoted infamous ‘experts’ who said a military response to Pelosi’s visit would be definite. Hu Xijin, ex Global Times editor-in-chief suggested that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) should send military aircraft to escort Pelosi’s plane while it enters Taiwan.
With all possible threats now on the table, Beijing is betting on Joe Biden’s incapacity to lead his country’s Taiwan policy with decisiveness. In all likelihood, Pelosi’s visit will be put off by the Biden administration. Biden allowing Pelosi to make the trip, however, could put China in a tight spot. Will it actually respond to the visit using its military? That is unlikely, and without a fierce response, China’s aggressive statements will be construed for what they are – empty rhetoric.
Invasion of Taiwan Imminent?
Having said that, China’s invasion of Taiwan is not a subject of ‘if’, but rather of ‘when’. The same was said by CIA Director William Burns recently in as many words. “I think our sense is that it probably affects less the question of whether the Chinese leadership might choose some years down the road to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when they would do it,” Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum.
If one follows the rhetoric coming out of Beijing vis-à-vis Taiwan, it would not be difficult to decipher how the Jinping-led Chinese regime is getting increasingly aggressive and very hostile towards forces that seem to champion the cause of Taiwan’s independence and security. Even those who appear to be subtly supportive of Taiwan are now targeted by China.
Rest assured, if Taiwan gets invaded by China while Biden is America’s President, chances of the island nation remaining independent are bleak.