3 Things To Know About How Pelosi’s Risky Gamble On Visiting Taiwan Creates Problems For Biden

3 Things To Know About How Pelosi’s Risky Gamble On Visiting Taiwan Creates Problems For Biden


Photo: In this photo released by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, left, speaks with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Aug. 3, 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just wrapped a two-day, whirlwind trip to Taiwan. During the trip, Pelosi met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. While the trip was to show support for the self-ruled island in the face of threats from mainland China, some observers say the trip creates a problem for President Joe Biden.

Here are three things to know about Pelosi’s risky gamble in visiting Taiwan and how it creates problems for Biden.

1. Historic trip

Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Pelosi, the second in line in the presidential order of succession, will be the most senior U.S. official to visit the country. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the last high-ranking U.S. official to visit in 1997. Although self-governing, Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory. China has vowed to bring the island back under Beijing’s control.

During her speech on the island, Pelosi vowed that the U.S. would stay committed to Taiwan despite pressure from China.

Pelosi’s visit is also significant because it coincided with the 95th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army founding on Aug. 1.

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2. Rubbed China the wrong way

China wasn’t happy about Pelosi’s trip. It prompted “a caustic response from officials in Beijing amid fears that it could spark the worst cross-straits political crisis in decades,” Foreign Policy reported.

Fearing that China would not be too happy about the trip, there was pressure on Pelosi not to go.

White House officials warned Pelosi of possible diplomatic fallout, and Biden said in July that U.S. military officials believed it was “not a good idea” for Pelosi to travel to Taiwan.

But they could not stop her from visiting.

“[T]he national security team has engaged her and her team and gave her thorough briefings—but were clear from the beginning that she will make her own decision because Congress is an independent branch of government,” wrote a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, speaking on background under ground rules set by the White House, Foreign Policy reported.

On the back end, Biden tried to calm China, stressing to Beijing that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan says nothing about U.S. policy toward China or Taiwan. Still, insiders said China is furious.

“Saying that this is a whole lot of nothing or that the Chinese shouldn’t read into it. … Well, anybody who has spent half a minute looking at China knows that they attach some sort of intentionality to everything we do,” Andrew Mertha, director of the China Global Research Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told CNBC.

3. What happens with ‘One China’?

The U.S. government’s “One China” policy started in 1972 under then-President Richard Nixon. Under the policy, the U.S. recognizes only one government in China but maintains unofficial ties to Taiwan. Some political observers say that Pelosi’s trip chips away at One China.

But China hawks in the Republican Party cheered Pelosi’s travel, believing that U.S. shouldn’t give in to Chinese threats.

“Broadly speaking, China believes the United States is hollowing out its ‘One China’ policy,” Jacob Stokes, an expert at the Center for a New American Security, told Foreign Policy. “At the same time, Taiwan is really looking for signals of international support.”

Photo: In this photo released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, left, speaks with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she prepares to leave in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 3, 2022. Pelosi left Taiwan after a visit that heightened tensions with China, saying that she and other members of Congress in her delegation showed they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)