Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan obviously provocative

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United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [Photo/Agencies]

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan is a political fire that will sour US-China relations.

Former Taipei-based CNN correspondent Mike Chinoy wrote an article, “What does Nancy Pelosi think she’s doing in Taiwan?”, about Pelosi’s controversial visit for the online magazine Foreign Policy. Like Chinoy, I too would like to know what motivated her to visit the island.

I wonder if she is aware of the damage her stay in Taipei will cause not only to China-US relations, the most important bilateral relationship in the world, but also to global governance.

I agree with Chinoy that “the risky trip…is a photo op to allow Pelosi to poke Beijing in the eye like she’s done in the past.”

No doubt the visit was gratuitously provocative.

The 82-year-old Democratic leader is no lightweight like European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer who, in an apparent mania of grandeur, described Pelosi’s visit last month as a ‘kind of deterrent’ to Beijing . Pelosi, known for her penchant for grandstanding, is a heavyweight in American politics, ranking third in the hierarchy of states, behind President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

When Republican Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in his capacity as Speaker of the House in 1997, he was representing the opposition because Democrat Bill Clinton was then President of the United States. This time, however, the US President and Speaker of the House are both Democrats.

Did Biden at least try to talk Pelosi out of the trip to Taiwan? We will never know.

Biden was warned on July 28 by President Xi Jinping against Pelosi’s visit. According to the Xinhua News Agency, Xi warned the US side against “playing with fire” on the Taiwan issue.

But Biden either blithely ignored the warning or was unable to stop Pelosi from “playing with fire.”

The result is that Pelosi has become a political firefighter. I can’t imagine a politician as shrewd as she didn’t realize the “fiery” impact her trip to Taiwan would have.

I have visited Taiwan about half a dozen times over the past few decades. I love its people, its landscapes and its food. Portuguese sailors called Taiwan the “beautiful island”, while the Chinese name for the island means “high and flat bay”.

I have noticed during my visits to the island how deeply Chinese it is in terms of culture, language, traditions and customs, popular beliefs and culinary delights. For example, Mazu is a cross-strait deity worshiped in Taiwan, Fujian Province, and Macau Special Administrative Region.

As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, the US lack of faith on the Taiwan issue is despicable. He is right, because according to the three joint communiqués signed by Beijing and Washington between 1972 and 1982, the United States formally recognizes that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is an integral part of China.

I agree with Chinoy that Taiwan’s 23 million people will have to face the consequences of Pelosi’s madness.

It’s a shame that China-US relations have reached a new nadir – the last thing the world needs now in the face of an economic low, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, trade sanctions, climate change and the COVID pandemic- 19.

Pelosi’s ill-advised trip is part of the wave of anti-China hysteria sweeping the West. Sinophobia has become an obsession among some Western politicians and it has, I fear, racist undertones – subliminal or unintended at best.

Accusing “the Chinese” of “stealing” and “cheating” is an ominous reminder of what happened to our Jewish and black friends in the not too distant past.

So, once the dust settles, China-US relations need to be reset – the whole world would benefit. For that, however, the United States and its allies must accept once and for all that the Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair. This is the red line that should never be crossed.

The author is editor of the Macau Post Daily.

Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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