Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi appears to be on the verge of a trip to Taiwan, an event which China has vowed to respond to with “forceful measures.” The visit is a rehash of one she originally intended to undertake in April, but was prevented from doing so when she tested positive for Covid-19. Should it go ahead, it would constitute the first visit by a US house speaker to the island in 25 years. The last one was Republican Newt Gingrich, but the critical difference was that he did so as an opposition politician to then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
This time around, Pelosi, as part of the majority party, is reportedly leading a delegation on an Asian tour at a time of unprecedented tensions. The trip also coincides with the anniversary of the founding of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which falls on August 1. Although President Joe Biden, as well as the US military, have voiced objections to the venture, this does not seem to have deterred Pelosi as of yet, with Republican hardliners now cheering her on and saying that the US will appear weak if she backs down.
This creates an extremely unfortunate dilemma, especially considering a Thursday phone call between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which Xi warned Washington not to “play with fire” regarding Taiwan. But in reality, such talk has rarely meant anything given the US has, when it comes to serious actions, never been truly willing to de-escalate tensions with China, act pragmatically, or with common sense. While it is true that Pelosi is technically not the administration and would not be going there on their behalf, nonetheless, the fact this event is happening signifies how unhinged the broader spectrum of US foreign policy has become. There is no restraint whatsoever or respect for the red lines of other countries, only the push for maximalist aims at all costs.