From the perspective of many Taiwanese, the visit by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was a complete success. In recent years, China has increased pressure on Taiwan. For example, sending more and more combat aircraft to areas near the island: almost a thousand in 2021 alone, more than double the number a year earlier.
China had gone to great lengths to prevent Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. But Pelosi went anyway: For many Taiwanese, it’s an important signal that the United States will stand with Taiwan in the event of an escalation with China.
Satisfaction for many Taiwanese
Pelosi’s visit propelled Taiwan onto the world stage, making the island headline news around the world. Thanks to Pelosi, most viewers should now know where Taiwan is and what a predicament it is in. For many, a satisfaction. After all, countless Taiwanese have had to explain over and over again when visiting abroad that they are from “Taiwan” and not “Thailand”. And they are different places.
And Pelosi’s visit was also an expression of appreciation and respect. Respect for many things of which the Taiwanese are rightly proud: a vibrant democracy, a freedom of the press almost unheard of in Asia, a very open, tolerant and hospitable society, and a remarkable achievement in one of the economic sectors flagships of our industries. time: the chip industry.
This point of view is more than understandable. But it’s also true that Pelosi’s visit provoked a military response from China that was predictable. The Taiwan issue is an entrenched conflict for which there is currently no solution. Beijing would immediately respond to a formal declaration of independence from Taiwan with war. By contrast, reunification with the People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping is completely out of the question for most Taiwanese, especially after the current events in Hong Kong.
Do not fuel entrenched conflicts
As political scientist Eberhard Sandschneider rightly pointed out: if you have no solution to a frozen conflict, you must do everything to keep it frozen. But Nancy Pelosi realized the exact opposite with her visit.
How historians judge Pelosi’s visit in retrospect will largely depend on how the days and weeks to come unfold. Most observers do not expect a military escalation, although the scale of Chinese military maneuvers exceeds anything seen so far. Many assume that the situation will ease again as soon as Beijing feels it has made its point very clearly, through a large military deployment.
But there is also the danger of an incident occurring during large-scale manoeuvres. Or a fatally wrong decision that then leads to a chain reaction. The visit will therefore be, in the worst case, the beginning of a direct military confrontation between two global and nuclear powers: China and the United States.
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