Taipei, Taiwan – Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, has arrived in Taiwan, in a visit that has angered China, which claims the self-governing island is its own territory.
Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei late Tuesday risks triggering a major crisis between China and the United States, which does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country but is still required by U.S. law. bridge provide its government with the means to defend itself.
China has threatened “serious consequences” if Pelosi – the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years – goes ahead of her visit.
“The US side will take responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news conference in Beijing.
On Tuesday morning, Chinese warships and aircraft repeatedly entered the median line of the Taiwan Strait, according to reports. Four US Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, were deployed in waters east of Taiwan before the Pelosi’s arrival.
Analysts in Taiwan said Beijing’s response to the visit could be both short-term and long-term.
James Lee, a researcher on US-Taiwan relations: “We can expect China to escalate its existing military activities, such as live-fire exercises, but adjusted in such a way as not to enter into direct conflict with Taiwan or the United States. at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, told Al Jazeera.
“Chinese warships and warplanes can cross the median line in response to the visit, but they are unlikely to enter Taiwan’s national airspace or its territorial waters,” Lee said. this, because the risk to the fighters of the Taiwan Air Force is very high.
Wen-ti Sung, an expert at the Australian Center for China in the World at the Australian National University, told Al Jazeera that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would likely use live-fire drills. and test rockets to show strength to a domestic audience in response to Visiting Pelosi.
“The message China intends to send is that it has the ‘ability’ to respond, but whether it currently has the ‘intent’ to respond is another matter. China will argue that it will act at a time of its choosing, rather than reacting or dancing to the tune of external ‘provocations’,” Sung said.
China may also continue to increase the ante after Pelosi leaves.
Ross Feingold, a political analyst and lawyer based in Taipei, told Al Jazeera: “An escalation can now be a one-time event, but it can also become a one-off event, too. part of the long-term aggression pattern.
China’s incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which have increased both in frequency and frequency in recent years, are an example of an escalation, he said. like that, he said.
“This could be a real strain on Taiwan’s defense resources and the men and women serving in the military in the future,” Feingold said.
While the specifics of Pelosi’s journey in Taiwan have not been publicly confirmed, she is expected to visit the country’s Legislative Ministry on Wednesday morning and meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing- wen before she left.
It is not yet clear whether any major policy outcomes will be announced during the visit, but experts agree that the optics of Pelosi’s arrival alone are of strategic significance.
“There is no clear sign of a major policy announcement coming from this visit,” Lee said.
“Instead, it is a case of strategic signaling,” he said.
Mr. Lee said that Pelosi’s position as speaker in the House of Representatives is very important to Taiwan, and explained that Section 3 of the Taiwan Relations Act gives the US Congress a lot of influence over the decision to protect Taiwan. Washington’s defense of Taiwan.
“Even if the president says, ‘We will defend Taiwan, it’s really not that simple. But this visit is signaling that Congress’ support for Taiwan remains unwavering,” Lee said.
Pelosi’s visit also comes at a pivotal time for both Pelosi’s Democratic Party and Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The US is headed for midterm elections in November, the outcome of which will determine whether the Democrats retain their current majority in both the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, Taiwan will hold local government elections the same month.
Whether Pelosi’s visit promotes or hurts the DPP in the eyes of Taiwanese voters depends on China’s response.
‘Soft on China’
“If China doesn’t do too much, then the ruling party will be a win because they will show they are getting more American officials visiting, which voters respond well to,” Lee said.
“However, if China takes aggressive actions that actually threaten the peace, it could cause public reaction if they attribute that instability to the policies of the DPP,” he added.
“On the other hand, the use of force could backfire against China and further entice Taiwanese voters into the view that China is the aggressor, as happened in 1996 during the Great Depression. cross the strait for the third time.”
Political analyst Feingold thinks the DPP is likely to benefit from the visit, even if China reacts aggressively.
“It will allow the government to show that they are being bullied by China and that they need support from friendly countries like the US, Japan and Australia,” Feingold said.
“Taiwanese voters approved of the current government and its policies towards China and are well aware of China’s aggression,” he said.
Pelosi’s party could also profit from the visit among American voters.
“Democrats are often criticized by Republicans for being too soft on China, but this visit will give them something to refute that claim,” Feingold said.
“That could help the Democratic candidates in the tight number of seats coming in November.”