The US must support Taiwan’s democracy. Washington didn’t examine the costs and benefits of a symbolic trip to Taiwan.
Three types of political crises exist. Others smolder for years and are handed from state to state like a hot potato. Then there are the difficulties politicians cause via incompetence.
Third, there’s Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. The House speaker’s support for the democratic island republic under Chinese pressure is admirable. The Biden administration’s unclear information policy makes the approach seem sloppy. The US must choose between giving in to China or fueling the Taiwan crisis.
China rattles the saber
Unknown is Pelosi’s decision. The Democrat left for Asia with a congressional group without mentioning Taipei. China has issued unusually open threats of military harassment against the island. Hu Xijin stated in a party journal that China would fight the visit “steadfastly.”
Such saber-rattling shouldn’t terrify the West. Beijing can spread worry by placing interceptors in Taiwan’s airspace, but it’s unlikely to resort to an open act of war – shooting down Pelosi’s plane. The US can safely accompany congressmen to and from Taiwan.
How wise would a display of force be? Why are the Americans visiting? Washington hasn’t shown much consideration. Pelosi is America’s third-highest official. It would be the most prominent visit to Taiwan since 1997, when the House Speaker visited under different geostrategic circumstances. The US didn’t recognize Taiwan for decades and only sent low-ranking representatives to maintain contact.
Pelosi’s visit suggests the US wants to recognize Taiwan’s statehood. This contradicts China’s disappointing but eventually successful one-China policy. It states that Washington recognizes only the People’s Republic of China. The US opposes a violent unification of Taiwan and mainland China, but leaves open how far it will defend Taiwan.
All sides have benefited from this approach, including the island, which has become a prosperous democracy. American foreign policy shouldn’t be changed. If they do their part, they’ll have more credibility in claiming Beijing must maintain the status quo.
But with substance
This excursion is also symbolic. Helping Taiwan upgrade its defense would be more vital. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the necessity of anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft systems, and precise artillery. The island republic’s gaps are awful. These can be shuttered to prevent a Chinese invasion.
Congress can aid Taiwan more by approving arms agreements than by shaking hands in Taipei, which is overshadowed by a self-inflicted crisis. Pelosi can avoid the latter by claiming illness or postponing her trip to Taiwan. It won’t be third in American politics then.
Original article published