Pelosi visit to Taiwan irks China: What lies in store?

Pelosi’s visit comes at a time when tensions have been escalating, with China bent on making Taiwan its own

As US Speaker Nancy Pelosi touched down in Taiwan and met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, elsewhere beyond the Taiwanese border China has been fuming. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has evoked strong condemnation from Chinese authorities, and has even warned that the US will have to pay the price for the Speaker’s visit.

The visit by Pelosi, however, comes as a big relief to Taiwan, as she becomes the most senior US politician in the past quarter of a century to visit the Asian nation. The relief for Taiwan stems from the fact that Pelosi’s delegation landed in Taiwan with the proclamation that the US would not “abandon” the island country.

China has always maintained that Taiwan is a breakaway province that would need to merge into Chinese territory very soon. However, Taiwan is a self-ruled nation that doesn’t want Chinese authority over it.  The tensions have been escalating, with China bent on making Taiwan its own.

Pelosi to keep US promise made to Taiwan

But then, the US doesn’t want that to happen. Going by what Pelosi has been quoted saying by a BBC news story, America had made a promise to Taiwan 43 years ago that it would always stand with the Asian nation. Referring to the Taiwan Relations Act, she also made it clear that the US will not abandon its commitment to Taiwan.

The US has been playing along the by the “One China” policy that makes it recognise only a single Chinese government. America, though has formal relationships with Beijing, also nurses an unofficial relationship with the island, which includes weapons sale to Taiwan in case the Asian country needs to defend itself. However, the US cosying up to Taiwan isn’t been seen as a welcome move by Beijing. With China raining objections, the US is in the midst of a diplomatic dilemma, so to say.

Now with Pelosi flying down with a delegation to meet Taiwan officials, Beijing sees it as another sign of support for Taiwan from the American side. And, of course, Pelosi’s statements during her meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen that ‘America’s decision to preserve democracy in Taiwan remains iron-clad’ has everything in it to ruffle feathers in Beijing.

Taiwan faces heightened military threats

Taiwan has stated that it is facing deliberately heightened military threats, but would not bow down to pressure. Taiwan will do whatever it takes to strengthen its self-defence capabilities, President Tsai has been quoted saying.

Meanwhile, tension is building up as China has announced that its People’s Liberation Army will go ahead with a series of live-fire military drills in the air and at sea around Taiwan later this week so as to warn ships and aircraft not to enter the affected areas. This announcement came just within an hour of Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan. China has already let its warplanes fly out as far as the median line which officially separates the two countries.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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