Nancy Pelosi's Visit to Taiwan Has Made China Very, Very Angry
United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a leading Democrat but many Republicans love her for her hardline stance on China and Taiwan. Pelosi has a very long history of voicing support for Taiwan and pushing back against China’s rise. Her visit to Taipei this week has forced the White House to de-escalate tensions with China, already quite angry with the development. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan might be labeled a personal trip, but China does not see it that way, especially if the visiting person is third in the line of succession to the American President.
The White House has opposed Pelosi’s visit to the island, warning her that it would aggravate the already worsening tensions with China. But in a statement, Pelosi defended her visit, saying her “delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering committment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”
She also defended her trip to Taiwan against those saying it was a provocative act. “Our visit is one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan—and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances,” Pelosi said. “The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”
Despite disagreements with the White House over the timeliness of the trip, President Joe Biden is not allowing Pelosi to travel to the island without significant backup.
To support Pelosi, the U.S. has deployed the USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group to waters around Taiwan. This is a precautionary measure in anticipation of increased Chinese military movements in response to Pelosi’s Taiwan trip.
As expected, China is infuriated.
For Beijing, Taiwan is an inherent part of China, albeit with a different government. It sees Pelosi’s visit to the island not only as a violation of China’s sovereignty, but also as a gesture supporting calls for Taiwan’s independence. Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, provides a glimpse into the minds of Chinese officials and generals with its recent headlines:
“The People’s Liberation Army Will Not Idly Stand By.”
“The Chinese Army Will Surely Eliminate Pelosi's Visit's Consequence Through the Escalation of Military Operations.”
“People’s Liberation Army Drills Involving Missiles, J-20 Stealth Fighters Surround Taiwan as Pelosi Lands on Island.”
“China Summons US ambassador… Warns U.S. of Paying Price for Its Mistake.”
China is so angered by Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, it surrounded the entire island with military drills in five directions—an unprecedented move. And it involves some of China’s most highly guarded military assets, such as its untested J-20 stealth fighters.
“The joint maritime and air exercises in the north, southwest, and southeast will likely hone the capabilities of warplanes and warships to seize air superiority and control of the sea,” reported Global Times.
Taiwan is technically part of China based on the One China Policy. Although the U.S. recognizes this policy, it maintains robust diplomatic relations with Taiwan and has even provided military equipment to the island for defense against an invasion from the mainland.
In recent months, China has been more vocal about taking over Taiwan and increasing military activity around the island, particularly Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone or ADIZ. These developments could have played a part in Pelosi's trip to the island.
In May 2022, China sent 30 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, prompting the island to scramble its own fighter jets to intercept the warplanes. It was the largest incursion by China into Taiwanese air space.
These events have also triggered a response from the U.S., which has conducted more drills in the waters around Taiwan, including flying its warplanes in Chinese-controlled airspace.