Following the announcement of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming visit to Taiwan, it was discussed how and when this visit would take place. Pelosi visited Singapore on August 1, 2022 and landed in Malaysia on August 2, 2022. Pelosi’s plane took off for the next stop after making diplomatic talks there. Although South Korea and Japan were in Pelosi’s official visit plan, the plane landed in Taiwan, which is not on the route. In this process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has announced that they will respond harshly if Pelosi visits Taiwan.
As Pelosi’s plane made its way north (via Indonesia) from the south, the United States (US) reconnaissance aircraft also conducted surveillance flights around Taiwan, so the US closely monitored Chinese Navy patrols around Taiwan and fighter jets. In this context, it has been calculated that if Pelosi’s plane were to head to Taiwan, China would respond with an action to take necessary measures.
In fact, the US has decided whether Pelosi’s plane should land in Taiwan during the flight, and according to China’s mobility. The aircraft was accompanied by a fleet of 13 aircraft from the US Air Force, including eight fighter jets and five tanker aircraft. A week before the visit, Global Times commentator Hu Xijin said that if Pelosi’s plane approached the island, the Chinese Army would try to remove it and shoot it if necessary. Thus, the visit took place in a tense atmosphere.
Pelosi’s plane took a long route, giving time to fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft of the US. The American Navy sent four warships to the east of Taiwan. At the same time, the Taiwan Army’s Mirage 2000 fighter jet took off to escort the passenger plane carrying Pelosi.
In the meantime, China closed its airspace on the Taiwan border to civilian flights. Chinese Armored Army units were also deployed across the coast from Taiwan to the province of Fujian. China has also deployed 800-1000 km-range DF-16 ballistic missiles. In addition, the Chinese Navy aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong left their ports. Chinese fighter jets have also taken preventive flights in the region near the Taiwan Strait’s center line. The Taiwan Army has raised its combat readiness to the highest level.
The plane’s destination was not marked until the final hour of landing, so it was kept secret. The aircraft made a quick return to the north after Indonesia and headed for Taiwan. As a result, the fighter jets of the US were able to speed their flights to control air space around Taiwan. The risk of combat has increased as the US warplanes accompanying Pelosi’s aircraft approaching Taiwan airspace.
At this point, events could have concluded in the following:
- First, Chinese aircraft could have taken away Pelosi’s plane.
- Second, the downing of some aircraft could have been the result of the US warplanes guarding Pelosi’s aircraft getting into a dogfight with Chinese aircraft.
- Thirdly, after Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan, there could be a military intervention by China on the island.
Washington has sought to make Beijing accept this visit without a war. So, the US is trying to make China to accept this new status quo. The new status quo is that in the process leading to Taiwan’s independence, world states can communicate with the island and develop bilateral relations. It is estimated that after Pelosi’s visit, the leaders around the world are going to visit Taiwan more often. China has a difficult time accepting these new terms. In this sense, the US is testing the boundaries of China.
Implications of the Visit
Immediately after Pelosi visited Taiwan, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began conducting exercises, flights and missile tests in the waters surrounding the island. It is thought that China could capture the islands in Taiwan’s immediate vicinity in retaliation for the US. But the United States could interpret China’s seizure of any of the islands, or its establishment of new military bases there, as a major escalation, and could lead to more economic sanctions against China. The move could also put alarm bells on neighboring countries in the South China Sea that are having disagreements with Beijing.
Beijing has also imposed a ban on imports of more than 100 food companies of Taiwan. It is also claimed that the Beijing administration will impose severe penalties on those who support Taiwan’s “separatist” activities. Furthermore, it has been suggested that China could minimize its relations with the US and impose sanctions on diplomats. On the other hand, cyber-attacks on sites of official Taiwanese institutions have increased. Official websites of some institutions collapsed just before the visit.
With all these incidents, the implications of Pelosi’s visit could be as in the following, in terms of the US-China relations: The trip is likely to have devastating effects on the American-Chinese relations. China still considers to take military actions to respond to this visit. The question is whether China will accept this new status quo, since Pelosi’s visit paves the way for a status quo change related to the island.
Meanwhile, China’s drills around Taiwan, blocking international waterways, and the possibility of invading other islands in the future, are other actions that threaten the status quo in the region. Therefore, both the US and China are trying to create a new situation that would benefit them by overturning the balance in the region. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has committed to maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by saying that Chinese military exercises are unnecessary reactions.
The US has apparently pledged to China that the visit will not lead to the creation of new status quo. China has already responded to this visit. The two sides are known to have been in constant communication throughout the day, meaning that they have negotiated on some issues. Washington was able to prevent Beijing from a harsh reaction through this communication. In brief, the US has taken the pledge that China would not intervene militarily until Pelosi’s plane has taken off. After receiving such a guarantee, Pelosi’s plane took off for Taiwan. Washington’s administration has extended the flight’s cruise, just in case, keeping in touch with Beijing and taking necessary precautions against possible threats. The communication of the parties and the resolution of misunderstandings in this process eliminated the risk of war.
Its impact on global politics could be as in the following: firstly, it is difficult for European countries and Russia to keep quiet as the United States descends into a war with China. In such a scenario, world powers can begin to take sides in war. While European countries support the position of the US, Russia’s support for China is further consolidated. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Washington’s provocative moves will lead the US to a confrontational point against China. So Russia does not underestimate the possibility of war between the US and China. If these two great powers (the US-China) confront each other through Taiwan, North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) interest will be shifted here.
The departure of NATO, which Russia views as a major threat to its borders, towards Taiwan, would be a relief of Moscow’s European hand. On the other hand, China’s fraying, considered Russia’s closest ally, would put Moscow in a more difficult position. It is therefore possible for Russia to start pursuing a proactive policy in the region to support China. This could prompt action from Japan, which has historical disputes with Russia. With European powers backing Japan, the risk of a global war will increase.
As a result, one could argue, Beijing is late in taking the needed measures regarding Taiwan. It is evident that Beijing has failed to act on the Taiwan issue, making mistakes on its behalf and undermining its deterrence. In addition, China was delayed in making military preparations. In short, China has remained quiet on the US. To prove otherwise, Beijing is likely to make huge, progressive moves. This visit was a major loss of prestige for China.
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