ByTanmay Kadam

July 22, 2022

China appears to be coming down hard on the possibility of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan in August, with Chinese experts suggesting a military response if the American lawmaker decides to go ahead with the Taiwan visit.

A representative from California, Nancy Pelosi, belongs to the ruling Democratic Party and is currently the 52nd Speaker of the US House of Representatives. She made history in 2007 when she was elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.

On July 19, Financial Times (FT) reported, citing six sources, that Pelosi will head a delegation to Taiwan in August. Pelosi had reportedly planned to visit Taiwan in April, but the trip had to be canceled after she contracted COVID.

Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit
Nancy Pelosi speaking at the US Department of Labor on Equal Pay Day (Wikimedia Commons)

However, according to the FT report, not everybody in the White House is on board with Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which could be canceled.

China Warns Of “Strong And Resolute Measures”

China quickly took note of this report, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, warned the US of “consequences” during a routine press conference on the same day.

Zhao said the US Congress must strictly adhere to the One China policy. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would violate the One China principle and the stipulations in the three China-US joint communiqués.

The ‘three China-US joint communiqués’ are a collection of three joint statements issued by the US government and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1972, 1979, and 1982 that built the foundation for US-China relations.

As part of these communiqués, the US acknowledged the One China principle, established formal diplomatic relations with the PRC, thereby recognizing it as China’s sole legal government, and ended diplomatic relations with the Taiwan-based Republic of China (ROC).

“The US must not arrange for Speaker Pelosi to visit the Taiwan region and must stop official interactions with Taiwan, stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and follow through on the US commitment of not supporting Taiwan independence,” Zhao continued.

He further warned that if “the US side insists on doing otherwise, China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that the US “must assume full responsibility for any ensuing consequences.”

PLA Fighter Jets Should Fly Over The Airport Where Pelosi Lands

If Pelosi does indeed visit Taiwan, this will mark the first trip of a US House Speaker to the island nation in 25 years since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich met with former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in Taipei in 1997.

However, Chinese political analysts, cited by Global Times, noted that Gingrich’s case is not the same as Pelosi’s since Gingrich, who is a Republican, was in the opposition in 1997 during the Democratic government headed by President Bill Clinton, who, according to them “showed sincerity and made efforts to fix ties with China.”

In contrast, Pelosi and Joe Biden are both from the Democratic Party.

“If the visit eventually happens, it would not be a miscalculation but an intentional provocation by the US side,” Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Global Times.

Lu further said that the military response is definite, and Pelosi might bear the “stain” of sparking a crisis that could be more dangerous than the 1996 Taiwan Straits Crisis.

Also, Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, suggested that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) should send military aircraft to escort Pelosi’s plane while it enters Taiwan.

“When sending PLA aircraft to fly across the island, we [China] must be fully prepared for an all-out military confrontation,” and “we have no intention to make the war to be fought now, but no doubt, we are the one that fears the least if the war explodes now,” Hu said.

File Image: J-20 Stealth Aircraft

“If the Taiwan military dares to open fire against PLA aircraft, then Taiwan military aircraft would be shot down, and Taiwan military bases will be destroyed. So if the US and Taiwan authorities want all-out war, then the time for Taiwan liberation will come,” he said.

It is not the first time Hu has suggested flying Chinese military aircraft over Taiwan. In 2020, he wrote an op-ed calling for the PLA fighter jets to fly over Taiwan to “exercise sovereignty” over the island nation.

He said that visits by senior US officials to the island nation could be used as one of the pretexts for such a fly-over and that if the Taiwan military fired at Chinese fighter planes, it would mean war, and “the PLA will deal a crushing blow to the Taiwan military.”

China’s Tough Talk

According to recent remarks made by President Biden at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, even the US military thinks Pelosi’s Taiwan trip is a bad idea.

“Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” Biden told reporters when asked about Pelosi’s trip. “But I don’t know what the status of it is.”

Biden’s comments came a day after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned the US not to “arrange for Speaker Pelosi to visit the Taiwan region,” suggesting China’s hard talk may not simply be rhetorical but rather backed by a solid resolve to act.

Biden also said he plans to speak with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in the next ten days.

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