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'Utterly Reckless': Not All in the US Are Happy With Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan Trip

One expert, with respect to Russia and Ukraine, wrote that the US should absolutely not "court a two-front war."

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'Utterly Reckless': Not All in the US Are Happy With Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan Trip
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After much speculation, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally landed in Taiwan on the night of Tuesday, 2 August, and the Chinese, as expected, reacted with fury.

Shortly after Pelosi landed, AFP cited Taipei as saying that 20 Chinese military planes had entered Taiwan's airspace on the day of her arrival.

On the same day, four US warships were deployed towards the east of the island. The US had said that these are "routine" deployments.

For their part, the Taiwanese government appreciated her visit, with President Tsai Ing-wen saying that Speaker Pelosi is "truly one of Taiwan's most devoted friends. We are grateful to you to make this visit to Taiwan to showcase the US Congress' staunch support for Taiwan."

It is not just government officials of all three countries, however, who have much to say. Commentators and analysts have also been sharing a piece of their mind about Pelosi's trip, from calling it "utterly reckless" to praising her for not backing down in front of a bully.

Nancy Pelosi (in pink) after landing in Taiwan.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@SpeakerPelosi)

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'Why Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Is Utterly Reckless'

Writing for The New York Times, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, slammed Pelosi for visiting Taiwan, even for the purposes of symbolism, arguing that "nothing good will come of it."

"Taiwan will not be more secure or more prosperous as a result of this purely symbolic visit, and a lot of bad things could happen. These include a Chinese military response that could result in the U.S. being plunged into indirect conflicts with a nuclear-armed Russia and a nuclear-armed China at the same time."
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times

He also asserted that the US should absolutely not "court a two-front war."

"In short, this Ukraine war is SO not over, SO not stable, SO not without dangerous surprises that can pop out on any given day. Yet in the middle of all of this we are going to risk a conflict with China over Taiwan, provoked by an arbitrary and frivolous visit by the speaker of the House? It is Geopolitics 101 that you don’t court a two-front war with the other two superpowers at the same time."
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times

Friedman concluded by saying that Pelosi's trip might actually be a gift to Beijing.

"By visiting, Pelosi will actually give Xi an opportunity to divert attention from his own failures — a whack-a-mole strategy of trying to shut down the spread of Covid-19 by using lockdowns of China’s major cities, a huge real estate bubble that is now deflating and threatening a banking crisis and an immense mountain of government debt resulting from Xi’s unrestrained support for state-owned industries."
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times
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'The Last Thing We Needed Was Pelosi Backing Down From a Bully'

Providing an opinion opposite to Friedman's, conservative journalist Bret Stephens argued in The New York Times that Pelosi did good to not back down because bullies "always read efforts at conciliation as evidence of capitulation."

"If Beijing had gotten its way over something as seemingly minor as Pelosi’s visit, it would not have been merely a symbolic victory in a diplomatic sideshow. It would have changed the rules of the game. Rather than avert a diplomatic crisis, it would have hastened a strategic disaster: the further isolation of a democratic U.S. ally and key economic partner as a prelude to surrender, war or both."
Bret Stephens, The New York Times

He also went on to list four things that the US government should do to stand up to China. Two of them are listed below.

"1. Congressional delegations ought to arrive in Taiwan every week for the next year. Make them so routine that Beijing forgets to protest."
Bret Stephens, The New York Times
"2. President Biden should formally state what he has said repeatedly off the cuff: that the United States will intervene militarily if China seeks to invade Taiwan. He can underscore the point with frequent transits of U.S. Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait, along with an expansion of the secretive joint training exercises that U.S. and Taiwanese special-operations forces have already conducted."
Bret Stephens, The New York Times
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'The Damage From Pelosi’s Unwise Taiwan Visit Must Be Contained'

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post did not restrain itself from criticising what it called Pelosi's "insistence on demonstrating her support [for Taiwan] in this way."

"Of course we share Ms. Pelosi’s strong support for democratic Taiwan, her condemnation of the Chinese communist dictatorship and her belief, as she put it in an op-ed for The Post, that 'it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.' What we do not comprehend is her insistence on demonstrating her support in this way, at this time, despite warnings — from a president of her own party — that the geopolitical situation is already unsettled enough."
The Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The board went on to mention Ukraine as the US' top priority, and even provided a small history lesson to its readers, reminding them about the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, which was provoked by Taiwan's president visiting Cornell University.

"The top global priority for the United States now is Russia’s war in Ukraine and its accompanying fallout in global food and energy markets. The Biden administration can ill afford any distractions, much less a repeat of the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, which many Americans have forgotten, but which lasted eight months and two days. It began with Chinese missile firings off Taiwan in retaliation for a symbolic gesture — a visit by Taiwan’s president to Cornell University — and did not ease until after the Clinton administration mounted an enormous deterrent naval deployment."
The Editorial Board, The Washington Post
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'Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Is Only the Start of US Headaches'

Writing for Bloomberg, Chinese-American political scientist Minxin Pei focuses on how Pelosi's visit will make clear China's "'gray-zone' tactics," which will be America's greatest challenge with respect to ensuring Taiwan's security.

"The drills are a reminder that China has many different ways short of war to pressure Taiwan and undermine US support for the island. In coming years, countering such "gray-zone" tactics will likely represent the toughest challenge the US faces in its effort to maintain Taiwan’s security."
Minxin Pei, Bloomberg

He goes on to explain why this is an attractive strategy for China and the People's Liberation Army, and how things could still escalate into "accidental exchange of fire" and "panic."

"For Chinese leaders, the most attractive aspect of gray-zone tactics is their flexibility. Unlike overt acts of war, they give China the option to escalate while avoiding a direct confrontation with the US military."
Minxin Pei, Bloomberg
"More dangerous tactics could involve sending military planes and ships so close to Taiwan’s territorial waters and airspace that Taiwan has to scramble jets to intercept them, raising the risk of an accidental exchange of fire. The ensuing tensions could result in panic and temporary closure of Taiwan’s airspace."
Minxin Pei, Bloomberg

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Topics:  US China   China-Taiwan   Nancy Pelosi 

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Edited By :Saundarya Talwar
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