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What Happens After Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit

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INTERNATIONAL: China is likely to react with a show of force while the US continues its provocations. War isn’t starting today, but the crisis will deepen in the long term. China has made it clear that the move constitutes a massive provocation, undermines the foundation of US-China relations, and would cause Beijing to retaliate.

In a few hours, China had begun to enact its reaction. Airspace in its Taiwan-adjacent province of Fujian has been closed. New sanctions have been tabled on Taipei in retaliation for being complicit in the visit, which have amounted to a sweeping ban on food exports from 100 companies, Chinese planes have crossed the “Median Line” of the Taiwan strait, and more military-based responses appear to be in store. However, one should be prudent to note that, for all the anxiety and uncertainty, this is not going to be a declaration of war or an invasion. China’s intention is to make a show of force and deterrence, to stake its position on the Taiwan issue, not to spark a catastrophe.

However, the danger does not lie in potentially destructive short-term reactions. Pelosi’s visit – the fact of it happened, not the substance of what she does in Taipei – will set the stage for further US-China confrontation in the long term. It isn’t worth going to war over Nancy Pelosi, and China with so much to potentially lose, isn’t that stupid. Still, the severity of this visit cannot be underestimated – it is not a one-off event, but adds to a long pattern of provocations from the US, which is actively aiming to undermine the legitimacy of the One China Policy.

This includes: Biden’s recent comments that the US would “defend” Taiwan, the US encouragement of Lithuania to open a “Taiwan representative office”, the scrubbing of references to the One China Policy from the State Department website, and of course Taipei’s own bid to invite as many Western politicians as possible to the island, including reportedly paying them spurious amounts of money, in a bid to oppose China and undermine possible reunification. All this time, Beijing has been watching and issuing progressively more severe warnings. Thus, Pelosi’s adventurism could become “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” It might be argued that her visit is a personal decision, but being the third most powerful individual in the US and the second in line to the presidency, Beijing sees her as a representative of Washington’s will, and cannot leave such a provocation unanswered.


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