According to senior Taiwanese and American officials, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is due to travel to Taiwan. This was reported by CNN on Monday. According to this, the unnamed Taiwanese official is said to have said that Pelosi wanted to stay in Taiwan overnight. According to unconfirmed reports from Taiwanese media, she should arrive there on Tuesday evening.
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang evaded a clear answer Monday about whether Pelosi would come to Taiwan on Thursday. “We always welcome visits of highly decorated foreign guests to our country,” he told reporters in the capital, Taipei.
The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, did not mention that she would make a stop on the island on Sunday when she officially confirmed her trip to the Indo-Pacific region.
But that didn’t stop China on Monday from renewing its threat to the United States – and even threatening a military response: A visit to Taiwan by Pelosi would be “blatant interference in China’s internal affairs,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference in Beijing.
He spoke of a “very serious situation and consequences” for the United States. The Chinese side is fully prepared for all eventualities. “The People’s Liberation Army will not stand by, and the Chinese side will surely take vigorous and decisive measures to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Lijian said.
China’s communist government regards free Taiwan as part of its territory and threatens “unification”, if necessary militarily. When Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine in February, fears were raised that China might attempt to annex the island’s democratic republic by force.
Nancy Pelosi would be the highest-ranking American political visitor to get Taiwan in 25 years. Newt Gingrich, also Speaker of the House of Representatives, last visited the island in 1997. Pelosi originally wanted to travel in April, but she had to cancel the trip because of her corona disease. What would be unusual about the speaker’s trip to Taiwan is that she hadn’t announced it beforehand.
On Sunday, Pelosi only named Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Singapore as destinations, where Pelosi arrived on Monday. The focus is on “common security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said. Taiwanese media, citing anonymous sources, report that Pelosi is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday evening. However, the reports have not been confirmed.
The New York Times anonymously quotes US officials as saying they do not believe Pelosi would actually travel to Taiwan in light of the announcement. However, she could still change her mind, although it seems unlikely, the New York Times report said.
Aides to US President Joe Biden also anonymously told the New York Times that he had decided against asking Pelosi to cancel her planned trip to Taiwan. This would have to do with his respect for the independence of the US Congress. In addition, he does not want to give in to threats from the Chinese leadership. Threats, such as those from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is said to have told Joe Biden during a phone call: “Those who play with fire will die.”
China’s Defense Ministry also warned that “the Chinese military would not stand by” if Pelosi traveled to Taiwan. US officials reportedly said in light of these comments that they felt it was more geopolitically risky to prevent Pelosi’s visit than to let her do it.
Still, Pelosi put US President Biden in an awkward position. “I think the military thinks that’s not a good idea right now,” he commented on Pelosi’s travel plans.
Meanwhile, EU diplomats are also alarmed about the situation. In view of China’s threats, MEPs Michael Gahler (CDU) and Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens), who specialize in Taiwan and China, are calling for solidarity with Taiwan and want to visit the island this year.
In the EU, too, “the parliament is the driving force in Taiwan policy”. The executive is acting more cautiously, Bütikofer, who heads the European Parliament’s (EP) delegation for relations with China, said of the disagreement between Pelosi and President Joe Biden over whether their visit plan was a good idea or an unnecessary provocation.
Gahler sees no acute danger of war. “China is not prepared for war. It watches whether the West backs down on Russia in Ukraine or stops aggression.” He is the EPP’s foreign policy spokesman in the EP and chairman of the “Formosa Club”, the friendship groups of democratic parliaments with Taiwan.
Gahler and Bütikofer are calling for an EU investment agreement with Taiwan. The EU has negotiated a trade agreement with China. It’s on hold because of political differences. An investment agreement gives European companies better market access to Taiwan, and the construction of a Taiwanese semiconductor factory in the EU is becoming more likely. They will discuss this with the EP’s trade committee in Taiwan in December.
Gahler and Bütikofer warn against moving away from the “One China” policy. The status quo must be defended. Diplomatic recognition of Taiwan is out of the question. “But Europe must not retreat when Beijing moves the red lines,” says Bütikofer.
“A pragmatic partnership with Taiwan makes sense for us.” The “scaremongering” about Pelosi’s visit reflects “Xi Jinping’s increasingly nationalistic focus.” China wants to dictate Taiwan policy to the US, Japan and Europe. “Giving in would be a mistake.”