By Melaku Mulualem K.
The visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan on 3 August 2022 has got the most international news coverage in the world. This is because, it has become the gravest challenge to international relations that affects not only the relationships between the U.S.A and China but also the security, economic and political landscape in the Indo-Pacific area and the world at large.
China has established the One China Principle regarding the Taiwan question. This principle is also supported by international organizations including the United Nations and the African Union. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 decided that the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) is the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.
Taiwan question is the core interest and red line for China before establishing any bilateral relationships with another country. China has established formal diplomatic relations with 181 countries of the world that accepted the One China Principle. Based on this principle China also established formal diplomatic relations with the USA. Not long after establishing diplomatic ties with China, the United States passed the so-called “Taiwan Relations Act” in April 1979. Except for Swaziland which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, all other African countries have recognized the “One China” policy. Because of this China has diplomatic relations with almost all African countries.
Even if China has the military power to solve the problem of Taiwan by force, she didn’t choose this approach for the sake of international peace and security, and stability. Rather, like that of Hong Kong, China wants to solve the problem peacefully. This approach of China should be appreciated than provoking her for the other options at hand.
The U.S.A considered China and Russia as roadblocks to its hegemonic power interests. Because of this interest, the USA preferred to use more unilateral actions than multilateralism. Ukraine is one card of the USA to pressure Russia, and similarly, Taiwan is another card to put pressure on China. Since we are living in the nuclear age, the interest in making “America First” by military force may lead to global war and result in “America Last”.
Why did Pelosi want to visit Taiwan at this time? There can be many reasons for this critical question. The first is to boost the electoral issue of her Democratic Party against the Republican Party and to maintain her position as Speaker of the House of Representatives which Pelosi currently leads. She is doing this electoral arithmetic at the expense of the diplomatic relationships between the two countries. To fulfill her political adventure and election issue she visited the Island in the name of “democracy” recklessly and irresponsibly. In the long run, however, this electoral strategy will not benefit the USA in its relations with China.
On the other hand, there is parallel news saying that President Biden, also a Democrat, has been against the move of Pelosi. Whether this news is true or false, the 82 years old lady has done the gravest move that can damage the bilateral relationships between China and the USA. She has grimly abused her position as the Speaker of the House.
Many political figures have also condemned the visit. There was also widespread disapproval and criticism from major media outlets and prominent political figures. For instance, the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating said “A visit by Pelosi would be unprecedented – foolish, dangerous, and unnecessary to any cause other than her own”. The former president of the USA, Donald Trump also says Pelosi is “always causing trouble. Nothing she does turn out well”.
The other reason for the visit is to provoke China into conflict and to put sanctions by the USA and her European allies to damage her economy. While the economy and influence of China in the world increase, the hostility of the USA against China will also increase. Thus provoking China on the Taiwan question is an attempt to delay China’s development and block the moving of power from the West to the East. This is to put replica on the USA’s current relations with Russia. The USA believed that the war and sanctions on Russia has weakened the latter so that its “threat” will be minimized. In the same way, the USA targeted on Taiwan question to make China economically and politically weakened and become no more a challenge to the hegemonic power interests of the USA.
The USA and other Western countries could not prevent the destruction of Ukraine in the war with the Russian Federation. Even if Ukraine was pushed by the Western countries to go to war with Russia, they could not save her from serious damage. They are being criticized by the international communities for encouraging Ukraine to go to the fight. The visit of Pelosi can also target on diverting the eyes of the world from Ukraine which they politically failed.
The Taiwan question is the internal affair of China. Soon after her visit, the government of China issued a statement condemning Pelosi’s visit for “breaching China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. To threaten China in this aspect means threatening its sovereignty as well as interfering in the internal affairs of China. Since the international communities have accepted the One-China Principle as a norm, it is violating the international order that may lead to a new alliance among countries.
As history shows that the act of individuals may spark world wars. For instance World War I was struck in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand —heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire—was shot to death along with his wife, Sophie, by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914. This act can be regarded as a case in point to trigger world war and crisis. Thus the act of Pelosi should also be seen in this respect.
Now China has started military drills on air and naval forces as a necessary and just response to Pelosi’s visit. This bold action may affect the region where multi-billion dollars worth of trade passes through it. It will also affect the geopolitical situations in the region. Oil and other commodities cannot move in the region easily which may stimulate the insurance costs of shipping to be skyrocketing.
Thus Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and countries in the region can be affected in the immediate future. It will soon expand to other countries of the world. Africa, Asia, and Latin American countries that comprise many of the weakest economies of the world can be more highly affected than the others. Thus the international communities should voice against the policy of the USA toward China, in particular the Taiwan region . Otherwise, they will reap its consequences.
International relations underlines that states can defend their territorial integrity by increasing their military power, and/or making alliances with other states to maintain a balance of power. Thus, China, Russia, and other powers may establish alliances to contain the aggressive behavior of Western countries which are being supported by NATO. Such a move may lead to a new Cold War that can develop to proxy wars in different parts of the world. Military bases can also mushroom in different parts of the world. This shows the extent of the impacts of the ill-intentioned policy if USA regarding the Taiwan question in the region and the international order at large.
In my opinion, the USA believes that it can get benefit from conflicts and wars between and among countries by siding with one to attack the other and maintain its national interests. This is to make governments subservient to the interests of the USA. That is why there is the USA behind any other major conflicts and wars in various countries of the world. We can’t get China in such a “bad boy game”.
On the other hand, China believes that she can get benefit from a peaceful world that supports its international initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI), and Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind. If there is security China can continue constructing infrastructures in different parts of the world and can benefit from such global projects. The infrastructures can serve if there is peace. Otherwise, they will be damaged by war. If there is war and conflict such global initiatives will be in a dangerous situation.
In conclusion, the visit of Pelosi is violating the One China Policy and principle. This is because she didn’t get a green light from China for her visit. The question of Taiwan cannot remain solely as the issue of the USA and China. It is the center of gravity for world peace and security. Thus the USA should refrain from such reckless action that may lead to global crises. The international communities should also voice against such acts for the sake of peace, security, and developments in the world.
Melaku Mulualem K. is aResearcher in the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia
The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institution he is affiliated with. He can be reached at [email protected] .
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