South China Morning Post
US House Speaker’s Taiwan visit was a political stunt with the shortsighted aim of winning Democrat votes ahead of midterm elections
Yet there will be long-term consequences, including heightened geopolitical uncertainty, while Beijing will inflict economic pain through tariffs and sanctions
The trip to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, third in line to the US presidency, marked the most senior-level US visit to the island in 25 years. For the past two weeks, tensions have been building around the event, with sharp words from Beijing about violating the one-China policy. Pelosi’s visit was not a spur-of-the-moment thing but a venture carefully coordinated by the White House, Congress and the Pentagon so as to balance provocation with plausible deniability. It was another attempt by the US at “salami slicing” China – incrementally changing the status quo. Since US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Pelosi’s Taiwan trip has been the most provocative front against China. The timing was odd, given that Biden and President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation that lasted more than two hours less than a week ago with the aim of easing tensions. Pelosi knows Taiwan is Beijing’s red line. As such, her insistence on visiting the island raises questions over whether she has lost faith in Biden’s foreign policy or, as the Chinese are suggesting, her provocative stance is more of a political stunt to show that she is more willing to challenge China than Biden.