Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan and generates controversy with China
US House Speaker has landed in Taiwan, igniting controversy in US-China relationship
The Speaker of the United States House, Nancy Pelosilanded in Taiwan this Tuesday morning, 2, in a move that expands the controversies in the relationship between China and the United States.
The parliamentarian, whose arrival had been expected for a few hours, became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
Pelosi’s trip was not confirmed until the last minute, although it was already taken for granted in recent days, amid the parliamentarian’s tour of Asia.
In a statement, Pelosi said the visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”
“Our discussions with Taiwan’s leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and advancing our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the House Speaker’s statement said.
Pelosi in a newspaper in Taipei, capital of Taiwan: visit supported by the local government (Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
In an indirect message to China, Pelosi also said that US “solidarity” with Taiwanese people is “more important than ever as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
The administration of US President Joe Biden previously said that the decision to go to Taiwan would be “exclusively” by the Speaker of the House, and that his trip was not made by order of the White House.
“Members of Congress make their own decisions,” Biden’s press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said this week.
The Chinese government said the visit “seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and will have “severe impact” on US relations with China.
The Chinese government has made repeated statements against the trip in recent days, and the case was also the subject of a rare direct connection between Chinese President Xi Jinping and American Joe Biden. Beijing said Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan could have “consequences” and urged the US not to “play with fire”.
Taiwan: Protesters in favor of Pelosi’s visit gathered to welcome the US lawmaker (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)
Taiwan has been a separate portion of mainland China since 1949, when the Chinese Communist Party government came to power and part of the opposition took refuge on the island.
China does not consider Taiwan an independent territory from the mainland, and the status of the island (which is not a recognized country) is controversial.
The US also does not recognize Taiwan’s independence and today base their diplomacy on the concept of “one China”, recognizing mainland China. Even so, they historically provide technical and military assistance to Taiwan and argue that the island should have autonomy to establish its own government, which creates a fine line in the relationship with Beijing.
There was concern ahead of Pelosi’s landing, amid Chinese troops stationed close to Taiwan. The parliamentarian’s arrival without major disturbances was seen as a positive sign and stock markets in the US, Europe and Brazil were operating on the upswing shortly after Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday.
Why Pelosi’s trip causes controversy
Beijing considers the visit of a high-ranking American official to be an affront to Chinese sovereignty. China’s criticism stems from the fact that a visit like Pelosi’s could signal US support for Taiwan independence, rather than the “one China” policy.
The last time a US official of equal rank to Pelosi had visited Taiwan was in the 1990s, when relations between China and the US were much more relaxed.
In 1997, a visit was made by the then Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich.
Now, Pelosi’s departure takes place in a very different scenario, with China having become a world power and in open dispute with the US.
Taiwan is an island of about 24 million people, less than 200 kilometers from mainland China.
The territory has been considered independent since 1949, the year in which the Chinese Communist Party of Mao Tse-tung he effectively won a civil war that had lasted since 1927 and came to power in mainland China.
Although the US does not recognize Taiwan as a country, the island’s autonomy has been a priority issue in Washington since the Cold War.
Currently, the US says it defends the “status quo”, that is, that Taiwan remains autonomous in relation to China.but do not defend the country’s independence.
At the height of the Cold War, Taiwan and the US had signed a mutual defense agreement in 1954, but the agreement would end in 1979, when the US began to recognize the communist government in mainland China.
From then on, the Americans only offer technical support to Taiwan, but have no defense commitment. The US currently avoids mentioning that it will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack..
The division on the subject becomes even more relevant as the US disputes with China grow. The new global scenario makes Taiwan, in practice, one of the elements under debate in the trade and political war between the two powers.
Who is Nancy Pelosi?
At 82 years old, Pelosi is a member of the Democratic Partythe same as President Biden, and in recent years has become one of the legend’s high-ranking symbols.
The congresswoman is currently president of the equivalent of the United States House of Representatives (in the English term, house speaker).
She has held the most important position in the House since 2019, and has been Speaker of the House also in a previous term, between 2007 and 2011. At the time, she became the first woman to preside the US House.
Born Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, the current Speaker of the House has been a member of parliament since 1987, representing districts in California, on the west coast of the USA and historically with the most progressive votes.
Pelosi has historically taken a hard line against China, which is at the root of her desire to travel to Taiwan. In addition, behind the scenes of American domestic politics, it is also discussed that the trip may be a way of signaling to more conservative and anti-China voters that the Democratic caucus in Congress, led by Pelosi, will be tough in its positions and “independent of ” from Biden when necessary.
Democrats face new midterm elections in November this year, and polls so far point out that the ruling party could lose to the Republicans the small majority they have today in the House and Senate.