he US provocation of China in the form of its House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the immediate sabre-rattling in response by China dangerously close to Taiwan is a highly nerve wracking international drama, especially because Pelosi flew into the island nation in Air Force One. Using the personal aircraft of POTUS is a clear indication about the seriousness of the message given out to the world. However, the US’ official position on the matter has been interestingly different. The Joe Biden administration has tried to create the impression that it was not in favour of the visit and even tried to dissuade Pelosi from going ahead with her programme. Washington has also clarified that it continues to respect China’s position vis-a-vis Taiwan of “one country two systems.” It would be naive to accept the American explanation. The Biden administration makes it clear that it would not leave Taiwan to be slaughtered by China’s invading troops the way Ukraine has been left in the lurch. Ukraine is facing a humanitarian crisis with millions either fleeing the country in search of safe zones in European countries or being maimed, killed and denied basic amenities as they prefer or have no option but to stay put in their homes.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine immediately triggered the fear of similar incursions of the Chinese army into Taiwan. Many even believed China’s President Xi Jinping was watching the West’s response to the war waged against Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin. If Russia could succeed in forcibly occupying territories in southern Ukraine and forming pro-Russian independent states in the Donbass region in the east despite the West’s support to Ukraine, China would replicate the model in Taiwan.
China has been much emboldened that it has started threatening taking over Taiwan by force and reducing the Taiwanese population to the status of minorities. The day after Pelosi left Taiwan, there were reports of violations of air space by Chinese warplanes in the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan and cyber-attacks targeting the websites of the President’s office and the ministries of foreign affairs and defence. Signboards at railway stations and in-store screens at the ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores were also hacked to display messages calling Pelosi a warmonger. This was followed by dramatic escalation, with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) firing a dozen Dongfeng ballistic missiles. Taiwan sent navy vessels to drive away the PLA, scrambled jets and deployed land-based missile systems to monitor the situation. Its President Tsai Ing-wen called for international condemnation.
This is all part of the script seemingly prepared by the US. The message is it will not brook Chinese attempts to invade Taiwan and Pelosi’s visit is to be construed as America’s preparedness and commitment to defend the country. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remark that China’s actions are “extreme, disproportionate and escalatory,” is significant.
China does not seem to opt for open confrontation with the US over Taiwan. Yet, it has to prove it will not be intimidated. Hence, the military posturing and threats.
One indication of this shadow-boxing is that the people of Taiwan are shrugging off Chinese threats. The Pelosi gamble may pay off and China may shelve, at least for the time being, its plan for forcible occupation of Taiwan. All this drama could be a curtain raiser for the bigger theatre. With the American economy in serious slump, domestic politics disturbed by Trump and his henchmen in the Republican Party, the American efforts could be aimed at creating proxy wars where multinational forces are drawn into battling the other two large powers namely Russia and China. It is a known fact that War is Great Business. That might be prompting the Americans to create situations of mistrust which would culminate in wars. Once hostilities commence then the smaller unified nations would immediately need to purchase and upgrade their military arsenal spending vast amounts of their resources. All that money would flow back into the American Arms Industry thereby bolstering their currently limping economy.