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It hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, but Taiwanese media says it already knows for sure: Tonight (local time), US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will set foot on Taiwanese territory. After the verbal hype of recent days, the question now is whether Beijing will keep its promise. “We have to prepare as best we can for the worst possible scenario,” warns Wu Chong-Han of Chengchi University in Taiwan.
When the official program of Pelosi’s Asian trip was announced last weekend, a visit to Taiwan was not on the agenda. But Taiwan media is now saying it will set foot in Taipei in the late evening. Former Taiwan diplomat and expert Gerrit van der Wess of George Washington University described the visit as “more than a glimpse” based on the so far leaked plans.
Hong Kong opposition newspaper Apple Daily, which is only active in Taiwan, reported that Pelosi will be staying overnight at the Grand Hyatt or the Marriott Hotel in Taipei. On Wednesday morning, she was to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, before leaving again in the middle of the morning. So go, but it can’t be called an official visit. A well-thought-out stopover from Southeast Asia, en route to South Korea and Japan, as Washington will explain.
“Such visits are important for Taiwan to respond to China,” said the former diplomat, Van der Wes. “People in Taiwan understand that this creates tensions, but the goal has always been to invite high-ranking politicians in office to visit.”
China followers say the fact that this visit was leaked earlier played a role in Beijing’s favour. Beijing has given time to build up the pressure and take on more weight than it otherwise would have been.
This is also a reason why authorities in Taipei are lip-smacking right now. “To keep the risks manageable, Taiwan needs to be smart about this,” said Wu Chong Han of Chengqi University in Taipei. “We are stuck between two superpowers, between America and China,” Wu said. “That’s why people choose it nowadays low profile to stay.”
Push and pull
Because where Washington is withdrawing, Beijing is retreating. China’s Defense Ministry said that if the visit continues, “the Chinese army will not stand idly by and take strong countermeasures.” They were not told what they looked like. But foreign affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian added: “We Chinese mean what we say,” the outspoken diplomat said. “A dangerous gamble,” said his colleague Hua Chunying today of the planned visit.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is preparing for war, read on social media platform Weibo. But when new boiling points are reached at the verbal level, it remains until now a matter of pricks in action.
Beijing said it flew a drone around Taiwan for the first time last week. Taipei did not mention this air traffic, which was interpreted in Chinese state media as a “weakness” to Taiwan’s air defenses. On Thursday, the Taiwanese twice reported a Chinese drone around Taiwan’s Matsu Islands. Taipei said it chased after the drone.
“People will try something in several areas and show their muscles,” says Gerrit van der Weiss, about the possible consequences of Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. How? “This is hard to appreciate, but if they do it too drastically, they will injure themselves. They will not catch up with a company like Foxconn, for example,” he says, referring to the Taiwanese iPhone maker that provides many jobs in the world.. China cares. .
Taiwan media already reported the import ban today. Hundreds of Taiwanese food companies are no longer allowed to sell their products in China. Previously, something similar happened with Taiwanese pineapple.
Party Chairman and President Xi Jinping called for a “de-escalation” in the region in a phone conversation with his US counterpart Biden last week. Biden suggested staying in close contact to avoid “miscalculation.”
It remains to be seen whether there will be a military response. And Xi wants to “return” Taiwan under Beijing’s wings, by force if necessary. But it seems unlikely that this will be the time to realize, as it is called in party parlance, the “Chinese resurrection.”
“In the short term, this visit strengthens relations between Taiwan and the United States,” said Wu of Taiwan’s Chengqi University. In the long term, Taiwan should proceed with caution and be mindful of Beijing’s military exercises. It does not refer directly to war. “But this is what Taiwan should prepare for. Caution is advised.”
NOS on 3 illustrates the role Taiwan plays in the conflict between the two superpowers China and the United States:
Taiwan: the country that is not a country
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