Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit : US-China Relations and Asia’s Geopolitical Trajectory : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-2: India & the World

Key Phrases: US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Taiwan, China, One China Policy, One Country Two Systems.

Why in News?

  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island.

Historical Perspective

  • The normalisation of relations between the US and China in the 1970s involved finessing the Chinese claim that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.
  • On its part, the US switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China, announced support for the “One China” policy, and agreed to limit its engagement with Taiwan.
  • Beijing, in turn, promised it would not forcibly integrate Taiwan into the mainland and respect the principle of “one country two systems”.
  • This compromise helped Washington and Beijing to significantly improve bilateral relations and develop a massive commercial partnership.

Current Scenario

  • Amidst the deterioration of US-China relations in the last few years, China has accused the US of undermining the One China principle by elevating American ties with Taiwan.
  • Washington says it is President Xi Jinping’s muscular policies that are overturning the status quo on Taiwan.
  • Xi’s absorption of Hong Kong in violation of the promises made to the international community and his ambition to integrate Taiwan, forcibly if necessary, have changed the terms of US debate on Taiwan.

Impact of Pelosi’s Visit

  • Although China could not dissuade Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives and second in line to succeed the US President, Beijing is turning up significant military and commercial heat on Taiwan.
  • The Chinese moves will only increase the pressure on Washington to raise its level of strategic support for Taiwan.
  • Speaker Pelosi is not backing the independence of Taiwan. But, for a long time, she has been a champion of the democratic rights of the people in China — including in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. With her visit to Taiwan, she has certainly queered the pitch for Washington’s ties with Beijing.
  • The broad political understanding between Washington and Beijing on managing the problem of Taiwan has been under strain for a while. But Pelosi’s visit marks an inflexion point not only for Taiwan’s future but also for US-China relations and Asia’s geopolitical trajectory.
  • The greater the Chinese oppression of its minorities and the more assertive it is towards its territorial claims on Taiwan and South China Sea, the more substantive the US resistance will become. A war over Taiwan may not be imminent. But the conflict over Taiwan is deepening.
  • Unlike in Ukraine, where the US is not directly fighting Russia, US commitment to defend Taiwan would pit American armed forces against the PLA in the event of an escalation. US allies, Japan and Australia, are also committed to join it in securing Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.
  • Ranked 21st, Taiwan is among the top economic entities in the world. It is a leading producer of semiconductor chips and straddles the vital maritime trade routes in the Indo-Pacific. The global disruption from a conflict over Taiwan could be much larger than that unfolding due to Ukraine.
  • Equally significant is the possibility that the deepening conflict between US and China could also draw India into it. New Delhi can’t afford to treat the developments in Taiwan as a distant crisis.
  • While Beijing might think twice before risking a direct conflict with Washington over Taiwan, it could hit out at its other neighbours, including India, to compensate for the visible weakness vis a vis the United States.

Source: Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. The recent visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan marks an inflexion point for Asia’s geopolitical trajectory. Comment.