Could Pelosi's visit to Taiwan spark a US-China war?

Could Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan spark a US-China war?

by Glenn Diesen

In recent years, the US has unilaterally withdrawn from security deals with its main adversaries, setting in motion an uncontrolled escalation. This has put Americans on a war course with countries like Russia and Iran. Now Washington is also taking steps towards an unforeseen war with China by gradually abandoning the One China policy. Beijing is currently warning of an unprecedented military response if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi goes ahead with her planned trip to Taiwan.

The One China Policy and the Policy of Strategic Ambiguity

The US and China established full diplomatic relations in the 1970s when Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Washington committed to the One China Policy, according to which there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. At the same time, the US is strengthening Taiwan’s ability to act as an independent state with arms deliveries.

So for the past four decades, the US-China peace has rested on a strategic ambiguity about Taiwan’s status.

During this time, the US and China have found themselves in a “deterrence dilemma”. Washington has tried to stop Beijing from forcibly reuniting with Taiwan by supplying arms to the island. Meanwhile, China is keeping Taiwan from officially seceding by threatening military intervention. With Beijing gaining strength, American efforts to prevent China from deploying its army are provoking the country to intervene instead.

In the past, the US has been rash in its handling of the One China policy, but in recent years Washington has begun to deliberately subvert that policy. Now Beijing’s rise threatens the US security strategy based on global hegemony. But Washington does not want to get involved in a multipolar order. Time appears to be on China’s side as its influence in the region is only set to increase. In contrast, US power is waning, and this creates incentives for a change in attitude towards China and the Taiwan issue.

A decade ago, the Obama administration announced its reorientation towards Asia. To contain China, this involved moving US military infrastructure to East Asia. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, launched an economic war against Beijing, using the one-China policy as leverage. Under President Joe Biden, the United States now seems ready to give up its commitments entirely.

Beijing sees the continued undermining of the one-China policy in connection with the USA’s refusal to adapt to the multipolar world and thus also to develop relations with the other great powers.

The Subversion of the One China Policy

US military cooperation with Taiwan has become more intense and open over time. Washington is pushing for greater Taiwan representation in the international system, for example by supporting Taiwan’s participation in the UN system.

As restrictions on official exchanges with Taipei eased, more US officials visited the island. This, in turn, has been seen by some US lawmakers as support for Taiwanese sovereignty.

In addition, American media and think tanks denounced the one-China policy and called for Taiwan to secede. Biden has repeatedly announced in recent months that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China. This exposes decades of policy of strategic ambiguity about how the US would respond in such an event.

These events come at a time of growing military and economic rivalry, as well as intense attempts to destabilize China from within. But as ever, Washington insists that it is not looking for a confrontation with Beijing, but only to stand up for American values. This is consistent with the general concept of American hegemony, in which belligerent policies to promote global hegemony are presented as benevolent support for democracy and human rights.

Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan today – the first trip by an official of her rank in decades. How should Beijing interpret this action and how should it react? Is Pelosi just a US criminal posing to distract from her personal corruption scandal? Or is this part of a broader US salami tactic aimed at gradually separating Taiwan from China?

Heading towards an unintended war

Beijing has warned of serious consequences if Pelosi carries out her threat to visit Taiwan. As a result, many now assume that Beijing is just bluffing. Finally, the risk of war with the US on the occasion of an official’s trip from Washington seems neither proportionate nor rational.

However, it is in the nature of salami tactics to portray all reactions as disproportionate and irrational. The tactic involves limited but repetitive pushes to build new realities. Incremental revisionism is designed to avoid rapid escalation and eliminate resistance from adversaries and allies, as any reaction can be portrayed as disproportionate or unprovoked. With such politically dishonest salami tactics, an unintended war begins.

Glenn Thisen is a professor at the University of Southeastern Norway and editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. Follow him on Twitter @glenndiesen.

Translation from English

more on the subject – The US wants to incite China’s neighbors against Beijing – will the plan succeed?

Source: RT

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