Nancy Pelosi takes on China in an individual capacity. But will China’s president Xi Jinping up the ante in her wake?


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In a world already unsettled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and aggressive Chinese retaliatory responses. Pelosi has been a long-standing opponent of the Chinese Communist Party, which included unfurling a small banner at Tiananmen Square in 1991 commemorating the martyrs of the massacres two years before that. With elections later this year placing doubts over Democrats’ ability to retake the House of Representatives, this may even be Pelosi’s last attempt at making a grand political statement.

Not surprisingly, the Biden administration was caught in a bind. It clearly didn’t want a militaristic standoff with China at a time when it is locked into a confrontation with Russia. But allowing Chinese aggression against Taiwan to go unchallenged was no solution either. China saw the Pelosi visit as an affront to its territorial claims on Taiwan. Moreover, Xi Jinping has no option but to project a more aggressive posture with the Communist Party Congress nearing. To that extent, Pelosi may have got her timing wrong.

Read also: Here are all the ways China’s hitting back against Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip

Taiwan has been a self-governing electoral democracy for decades. It is only Chinese heft that is preventing world nations including India from upgrading their relationship with Taiwan. But such tactics are also counterproductive. China’s actions in eastern Ladakh have prompted India to progressively shed its ambivalence. The bottom line is that if China continues in this vein, electoral democracies will continue to band stronger against it as has happened with the Quad and other strategic groupings.

The storm triggered by Pelosi raises a big question: How will the stakes raised by her visit play out for Taiwan, China and the rest of the world in the coming days?



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