Nancy Pelosi must stand firm in Taiwan
It is essential that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hold firm and continue her plans to visit Taiwan. Last week the FinancialTimes reported that Pelosi planned to lead a congressional delegation to visit Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, and include Taiwan on the travel itinerary.
A visit to Taiwan, originally scheduled for last spring, was canceled because members of the delegation had contracted Covid-19. Pelosi, who has always been positive about relations with Taiwan, is looking forward to visiting the country before her retirement from Congress. She is now eight and two years old and could leave her management position at the end of the year.
For Taiwan, the visit of a congressional delegation is important because it has few diplomatic relations. These visits provide political impetus and an important counterweight to Chinese threats and intimidation. Beijing tries to prevent these visits by threatening Taiwan. Sometimes these threats produce the desired result, but often they have the opposite effect.
In this case, the threats and the wording were sharper than usual, and it is of course important for the Biden administration to assess the risks and make the right decision.
It is therefore necessary to understand the underlying psychology of the Chinese government. The tactic on the Chinese side is always to overreact – “wolf-warrior diplomacy” – in order to corner the other side, the Americans, the Taiwanese or other countries.
An American diplomat who served in Beijing for many years explained it this way: “Chinese diplomacy is like driving a car in Beijing: there are no real traffic rules, whoever pushes the more arrives at its destination first.” According to him, it is important to push back hard and not be intimidated.
For Pelosi’s visit, that means promoting a policy that includes the following.
First, Pelosi should follow through on his plans to visit Taiwan and express broad support for its democratic system. Taiwanese have fought hard for their democracy and deserve all the support of the international community.
Second, to ensure that the U.S. military retains the necessary capability “…to resist any use of force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan.” as codified in Section 1(b)(6) of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979;
Third, insist that a visit does not represent a change in the one-China policy, which means that the United States recognizes the government in Beijing as the only legitimate government of China and that Taiwan is part of China.
Fourth, make it clear that the one China policy means something very different from the “one China principle” propagated by Beijing. This “principle” has never been approved by either the United States or Europe.
Fifth, express your outrage at unacceptable threats, especially those voiced in China’s state-run newspaper Global Times. These threats to Pelosi’s security are outrageous and unacceptable.
This discussion is not only an American dilemma or discussion, but also of great importance for Europe. Several European countries such as Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Norway have also been threatened and intimidated by China.
To have a sufficient counterweight to China, the United States and Europe must jointly push back against China’s aggressive behavior and work more closely together in their support of Taiwan to ensure that it continues to exist as a free and democratic nation-state and becomes a full and equal member of the family nations.
Gerrit van der Wees is a former Dutch diplomat and teaches Taiwan history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and American relations with East Asia at the Elliott School for International Affairs in India. George Washington University.