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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei on August 3. Photo: Handout via Reuters

LettersPelosi’s needless Taiwan visit gives China a chance to flex its muscle

  • Readers discuss how little the US House Speaker’s trip will contribute to Taiwanese society, how much it will cost American taxpayers, and why UK politicians should stop with the talk of the China threat
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Since the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, a status quo has for more than 20 years been maintained over cross-strait relations: no excessive provocation from either side, only calculated political decisions. But everything changes when a third party comes into the fold.
That happened on Tuesday night when the US Air Force jet SPAR19 arrived in Taipei carrying Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
From Beijing’s perspective, the US respects, or at least claims to respect, the one-China policy. This “one China” the US recognises is the People’s Republic of China, not the Republic of China. In a joint communique in 1979, the US acknowledged that Taiwan is part of China – the People’s Republic of China.

Therefore, a high-ranking public official from a foreign country diplomatically visiting Chinese territory uninvited, a “rogue province” at that, is a monumental departure from the status quo.

Taipei’s perspective on this whole issue is more tricky than it seems. First, the Republic of China still regards itself as the sole and legitimate China. The political will to declare independence is missing, as it would contradict the Republic of China’s own constitution.

There is no doubt the Taiwanese government seeks to continue the status quo while figuring out what to do next. Pelosi’s sudden visit puts everyone in Taiwan in an awkward position.

Despite repeated warnings from the Chinese government, Pelosi still decided to travel to Taipei. This resulted in the People’s Liberation Army announcing military drills targeting Formosa and surrounding it.

The PLA has drastically improved its combat capabilities since the 1996 crisis and is now willing to flex its muscles. This moment will affirm China’s determination to safeguard its territorial integrity in the eyes of the international community.

What to make of this mess? Pelosi’s trip to Taipei is nothing more than virtue-signalling that will do nothing but create tension in the Asia-Pacific region. It will serve to help her political ambitions back home. She will contribute nothing to Taiwanese society, let alone call the very place she visits by its proper constitutional name.

Despite this unnecessary mess created by Pelosi, China will have the opportunity to show its military might and will to defend every single inch of its de jure territory.

Chen Bai Chao, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Pelosi’s Taiwan visit will just cost Americans

I refer to the article “Why so much talk about Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and what does it mean for US-China relations?” ( August 2).

At a time when Americans have so many domestic and other problems (rising inflation, climate change, monkeypox, Covid-19, stratospheric US$30 trillion national debt, civil strife on our streets, and war in Ukraine), I don’t see how Nancy Pelosi’s provocative and costly (to US taxpayers) visit to Taiwan will be in any way be productive. Instead, it will severely harm US-China relations at a time when America is rapidly losing friends and gaining more and more enemies.

This charade is nothing more than a temporary distraction that we will all be paying for dearly in the future.

Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nevada, US

The rich irony of British talk of the China threat

Having followed the election campaign, exclusively of and for the Conservative Party, for the next UK prime minister, I see the threat of China to the UK has been put fairly high on the agenda.

As is often the case, the kind and type of threat is not specified. This was clear in the arguments mounted by the final two contestants in the race.

Considering that no Chinese navy vessel has in recent decades, if ever, conducted military activities in the vicinity of UK high waters and the fact that HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait as late as September 2021 and HMS Queen Elizabeth led a UK aircraft carrier strike group in the South China Sea back in July 2021, between the UK and China, who should feel more threatened?

Furthermore, looking back at history, what springs to mind is the fact that China has never attacked the UK. It is a historical fact that the UK has a track record of attacking and conquering parts of China.

If the unspecified threat is of a commercial nature, perhaps local offensive innovation efforts represent a better option compared with a defensive posture?

For sure this is not the first and will not be the last time that local politicians blame faraway countries and politicians for creating local challenges, rather than pursue more appropriate local solutions.

After all, blaming other people in faraway locations for miserable local performance has been proven the easier way to secure election or re-election wins. The question is, how long will the local electorates buy into such defensive behaviour?

Finn Nielsen, Discovery Bay