After the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, it is wondered how the People’s Republic of China would retaliate against the US. Beijing, started to naval exercises around Taiwan in the first stage, also announced that it had taken 8-point countermeasures to reduce its dialogue with Washington, including defense meetings, maritime security and climate talks.
From this point of view, Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views it received from David Spencer, the CEO of the Taiwan Policy Center in order to discuss the reflections of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on regional and global geopolitics and how China can retaliate against the US.
- Do you think that the status quo of the island has indirectly changed with Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan? Can European countries visit Taiwan more often now?
I think the PRC’s excessive response is clearly an attempt to shift the status quo in their favour. Their actions in firing missiles over Taiwan (albeit at enormous altitude) and in threatening to conduct exercises inside Taiwan’s territorial waters (although early indications are they didn’t actually do this) sets new precedents and their action has the potential to normalise military activity of this type in the international waters of the Taiwan Strait. Whether this works depends on how Taiwan and the rest respond. The Taiwanese Government has shown stoic restraint so far which is the right thing to do I think. The wider international community needs to show it will not tolerate a shift in the status quo. The US apparently has plans to navigate the Taiwan Strait with naval vessels soon. I hope the UK and other countries do the same.
In terms of visits, I think it is vital that governments do not let the CCP dictate who they meet with and travel to. Pelosi was right to visit, albeit the trip could have been handled a lot better, and European politicians must do the same. The UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee has a trip planned in the Autumn. I very much hope this proceeds. The Taiwan Policy Centre calls for more Ministerial visits between the UK and Taiwan and my view is that this has never been more important than it is right now.
- Can we predict that China’s hard power actions will increase even more in its near abroad?
If I understand this question correctly, I think you are asking about the PRC’s hostility towards other neighbours in the region. Again, I think this action sets new precedents in that regard. The CCP has its nine-dash line in the South China Seas which infringes on the waters of numerous countries in the region. There are numerous tensions with democratic countries like Japan and South Korea too, some over territory. My personal view is that by conducting an aggressive foreign policy, the CCP is looking to mask problems domestically (economic downturn, demographic challenges from an aging population). These problems are only going to worsen so I wouldn’t be surprised if their foreign policy became more aggressive too.
- Do you think that China will start any operation towards Taiwan in the near future?
No. The consequences of a military invasion at this stage would be catastrophic in terms of lives lost and economic repercussions. The CCP doesn’t need that at the moment and there is also no guarantee at this point they would win. They lack the capability to land the number of troops that would be needed right now too. The PRC would prefer to take Taiwan without a war so I think we are likely to see more sabre rattling, more economic coercion, more diplomatic pressure, but not an invasion any time soon.
- What would be the effects of a possible conflict over Taiwan on the geopolitics of the Pacific, Central Asia and Europe?
It would be economically catastrophic. 88% of shipping from the Far East to Europe passes through the Taiwan Straits. Taiwan is responsible for the vast majority of semiconductors which are essential in just about all modern technology, and it’s easy to forget that Taiwan is the 21st largest economy in the world itself. When you throw in inevitable economic sanctions on the PRC and the knock on effect around the whole world would be huge. That would be the main impact Geo-politically, it would shunt us much further down the road towards a new Cold War with Russia and the PRC.