WASHINGTON — When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan for a long-rumored official visit on Tuesday night local time, her visit was a slam dunk between the Biden White House and Congress’ most powerful Democrats. exposed a rare division of .
Officially, the Biden administration is careful not to directly answer questions about whether it agrees with Pelosi’s decision to visit.
But informally, the White House and the Pentagon have made little secret of their opposition to such visits at a time when US-China relations are at their worst in decades.
In late July, when asked about Pelosi’s then-rumored visit to Taiwan, Biden said, “I don’t think the military is a good idea at the moment, but I don’t know what the situation is.” replied.
For weeks, American officials under the president banded themselves together, trying to talk about Pelosi’s choice to visit Taiwan, trying to emphasize that it was her decision, and hers alone. It’s here.
Now experts say it is becoming clear that this effort is missing the point. That’s because Washington’s division is virtually meaningless to the rest of the world, which has learned to see American presidents and their greatest allies in Congress as interchangeable stand-ins for each other in matters of foreign policy.
The fact that U.S. policy toward Taiwan is deliberately vague only makes it much more difficult to draw a meaningful distinction between what Pelosi is doing and what the White House is saying.
Pelosi, a longtime Chinese hawk, had not officially announced a visit to a dominion island off the coast of mainland China.
But weeks after Pelosi and her office refused to confirm the visit, citing security concerns, Taiwanese media reported on Monday A congressional delegation of Pelosi and five other House Democrats spent Tuesday night in the capital, Taipei, and was scheduled to meet with Taiwan’s leader and the island’s lawmakers on Wednesday.
Beijing has been outraged for months over the reported visit, making it the first time in 25 years that the Speaker of the US House of Representatives has visited the island.
Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Xiaoming tweeted that Pelosi’s visit “greatly threatens peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, seriously undermines China-US relations, and will lead to a very serious situation and grave consequences.” Mr Liu’s statement echoes his intent and the tone of weeks of warnings and threats emanating from Beijing.
On Tuesday, China escalated this rhetoric in a series of actions, announcing a new import ban on certain Taiwanese products. Chinese fighter jets were flying nearby to the central line of the Taiwan Strait.
After hours, Taiwan’s major media reported that the island’s military will step up its vigilance In response to China’s live-fire exercises being held in anticipation of Pelosi’s reported visit.
The rapidly escalating military tensions between China and Taiwan carry an especially high risk, given that Pelosi has been traveling aboard US military aircraft throughout her trip to Asia this week.
They also highlight how Pelosi’s visit put the Biden White House in a difficult position.
As reports of the visit harden in recent days, Biden’s top spokesperson has been forced to reiterate that the existence of the forthcoming visit cannot be confirmed or denied, while at the same time downplaying its importance. did not get
“I would like to reassure you that the Chair has not confirmed her travel plans,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. There’s no way,’ he said.
Yet Kirby later confirmed that in the video, Biden specifically raised the topic of Pelosi’s unconfirmed trip to China’s President Xi Jinping last week. Calls longer than 2 hours.
“Congress is an independent agency of government, and Speaker Pelosi, like other members of Congress, will make its own decisions about international travel,” Biden said. “It became clear.”
Shortly after Biden and Xi Jinping said they had privately discussed the trip, Kirby again tried to downplay its significance.
“I think I explained very clearly that if she goes, if she goes, it’s not unprecedented. It’s nothing new. It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It’s not reinforcing rhetoric. It’s not changing behavior.”
For foreign policy pundits, the White House’s efforts to convince Beijing that it must distinguish between the actions of top Democrats in Congress and the intentions of the Democratic administration are futile.
“This is not a big deal, or saying that the Chinese people shouldn’t read it.. Well, anyone who has watched China for half an hour knows that they have some kind of intention in everything we do.” said Andrew Martha, director of the China Global Research Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
He said it was inconceivable to suggest that the Chinese government would consider a visit by a key figure like Pelosi not a direct statement of U.S. support for Taiwan’s independence.
This is especially true after Biden himself said on three separate occasions that the United States would defend Taiwan if China invaded it.
According to Martha, these statements undermined Washington’s decades-long assurance that the United States would maintain a policy of strategic ambiguity on the question of who would rule Taiwan.
Referring to the long-standing US position of recognizing the Chinese government as the only legitimate government, Martha said, “From the Chinese side, I don’t think it’s unreasonable, but we’re pushing the boundaries of the one-China policy. It means that there are However, it does not officially recognize Taiwan as under the control of the Beijing government.
“They’re on guard,” Martha said of Beijing.