This is arguably the most painful headline I’ve ever written, but it was a headline that needed to be written.
It is rare that Nancy Pelosi should get credit for something, but for whatever reason, she is bound and determined to fly to Taiwan in the face of actual threats from the Chinese government. The recognition of Taiwan’s independence is always the right thing, and Pelosi’s decision to fly there is an affirmation of the United States’ recognition of such.
Earlier this morning, it was confirmed that Pelosi would be flying to Taipei, the capital of the island state, and the Chinese military had an immediate response. That response follows a now-removed tweet from Chinese state media last week essentially threatening Pelosi if she were to fly to Taiwan.
If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion. The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down. https://t.co/V7LhrXgXoM
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) July 29, 2022
Naturally, and in light of the extremely poor response given by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the Biden administration is now having to act supportive of Pelosi, who is in their own party and the leader of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
"There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There's no reason for any actions to be taken … It is very much in keeping with our policy."
— NSC's John Kirby on Pelosi's trip to Asia, where she's expected to visit Taiwan (Chinese officials said China will "not sit idly by") pic.twitter.com/r8Lly4kNtH
— The Recount (@therecount) August 1, 2022
Of course, it should be noted that the White House and the Pentagon have been trying to get this trip canceled for weeks. Pelosi, however, would not be swayed and that’s frankly a good thing.
China and Taiwan have long had issues, but it’s China’s hard push for territorial expansion into the sea and influential expansion around the globe that is making this issue into a potentially catastrophic war in the region. Last week, Axios reported that China may be moving its timetable for invading Taiwan up several years in light of its dropping position on the world stage, economically and otherwise.
The big picture: The Chinese government has repeatedly vowed to take control of the self-governing island, by force if necessary, and it reacts furiously to any gesture that seems to treat Taiwan as an independent state.
State of play: U.S. and Taiwanese officials have in the past floated various timelines for an invasion, often setting the horizon at 2025 or 2030.
- But U.S. officials now believe China may make a strong move against Taiwan within the next 18 months, according to a recent New York Times report, though that estimate is not based on specific knowledge of Beijing’s plans.
- The U.S. and Taiwan need to take these signals as a call to strengthen military cooperation and joint training, a Taiwanese government official in Taipei told Axios. “Whether it’s 18 months or seven years from now, we need to start this process now,” the official said, “before it’s too late.”
As an aside, it’s probably no small coincidence that the Chinese may be moving their plans up to an invasion while Biden is still in office. They watched his (and the world’s) reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a lot of interest, and probably have concluded that Biden’s first term is probably the time because he’s not guaranteed a second one.
But, the larger point here is that despite the hostility and the threats, Nancy Pelosi isn’t backing down here. She is standing up to one of the biggest bullies on the world stage and is almost daring them to try something.
It’s also not something new for Pelosi to (literally) fly in the face of the Chinese Community Party. Jim Geraghty points this out at National Review this morning:
Pelosi sees herself as “a progressive hawk” on China; in recent days, people dug into the archives and found footage of her trip to China in 1991, two years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, when students and protesters in Beijing were crushed by the Chinese government. Pelosi and other members of Congress visited Tiananmen Square and displayed a banner honoring the demonstrators — until Beijing police showed up, hassling them and the media traveling with them. Back in the day, Pelosi opposed giving China most-favored-nation trade status, calling it “a nation that proliferates weapons of mass destruction, maintains trade barriers that bar U.S. products from its market, and continues to arrest, detain, exile or harass those who peacefully express their political or religious beliefs in China and Tibet.”
As much as it may pain some conservatives to do so, it is worth applauding the Speaker in this trip. She is beginning a tour of Asia while the August recess is underway, and she is starting with Taiwan. This is a recognition of Taiwan’s independence and a continuation of American policy on the subject. That the Biden administration is so nervous about it – to the point that they tried to tell her not to go – is telling, but at least Pelosi had the guts to follow through with her plan.
That deserves praise. We can, and should be, cheering her on here.
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