China steps up threats ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s unofficial visit to Taiwan — Radio Free Asia

Any visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who is currently leading a congressional delegation on an Asian tour, would result in “very serious developments and consequences”, China warned on Monday, on the eve of a planned visit to the Democratic Island.

While Taiwan was not on Pelosi’s official four-country itinerary, RFA sources and sources quoted by local media and CNN said she would make an unofficial trip to the island on Tuesday evening, which will not has ever been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). ni is part of the People’s Republic of China.

But even an unofficial stopover would be seen by Beijing as “blatant interference in China’s internal affairs”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

“We would like to tell the United States once again that China is here, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never stand idly by, and China will adopt resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.

“If she dares to go, wait and see what happens,” he told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

The Trump administration announced in January 2021 that the United States was lifting restrictions that had been in place since Washington severed ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979, saying Washington would no longer “appease” Beijing.

President Joe Biden has previously said China is ‘flirting with danger’ with its ongoing threat to annex Taiwan, saying the United States is committed to defending the island in the event of a Chinese invasion, a statement by officials Americans later presented as an interpretation of the existing terms of the Taiwan Relations Act requiring Washington to ensure that the island has the means to defend itself.

But Biden struck a more conciliatory note in a phone call last Friday with CCP leader Xi Jinping, saying US policy had not changed and Washington did not support full international recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Xi warned Biden that “those who play with fire get burned.”

Taiwan’s presidential office and foreign ministry both declined to comment on any visit by Pelosi, though Premier Su Chen-chang said the island’s government, which still uses the name Republic of China of 1911, would welcome all foreign VIP guests.

“We welcome foreign personalities who come to visit our country; we will make the best possible arrangements for their visit, and also respect their plans when arranging the program,” Su told reporters.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) shakes hands with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore during a visit to the Asia-Pacific region, August 1, 2022. Credit: Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information /AFP

No more saber noise

Drew Thompson, a former US defense official and senior visiting scholar at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said via his Twitter account that he expects Pelosi to make an unannounced stopover. official in Taiwan after his visit to Malaysia.

While Beijing privately considers this an acceptable outcome, Thompson said the PLA could launch high-level reconnaissance flights around Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). , a form of sword-clapping that has become commonplace in recent years.

Former Taiwan civil aviation director Chang Kuo-cheng said Pelosi’s plane would not be allowed to enter Taiwan airspace, so take a circuitous route through Taiwan-controlled airspace. the Philippines, the United States and Japan.

“It won’t cross our airspace,” Chang said. “If it tries, China might take action, something it has been preparing for a long time.”

Tao Yi-fen, an associate professor of politics at National Taiwan University, said Pelosi’s visit could still spur Xi to action, regardless of which route Pelosi takes if she visits.

“The CCP is about to hold the 20th Party Congress, so if Xi Jinping does nothing after issuing all these warnings, it may negatively impact his candidacy for another Party Congress term,” he said. Tao.

Taiwan resident Hsiao Wu said the war of words is largely manufactured by Beijing, created by the CCP’s insistence on annexing Taiwan, by force if necessary.

“From time to time, Chinese friends ask me if [Taiwan] really wants a war,” Wu said. “But no, we don’t. Our camp is peaceful.”

“If the PLA is really struggling to fly alongside [Pelosi’s] steal or lock their missiles, then that would be an overreaction,” he said.

“[Nonetheless]if a person of his rank comes to Taiwan, no matter what he wants to talk about, it will show support and a good attitude towards Taiwan, and strengthen his [international] picture,” Wu said.

External distractions

Meanwhile, a Chinese student in Canada said the CCP needed an external distraction amid an implosion in the property market and weak economic performance in the wake of Xi’s zero COVID policy.

“Social conflicts are more acute in China now…it needs to engage in provocations…and strengthen internal controls in order to consolidate social stability,” the student said. “The more the conflicts at home escalate, the more they will project them outward.”

News commentator Fang Wenxiang agreed.

“I think that [China’s] The wolf-warrior diplomacy has now touched all areas of government,” Fang said. “Spokespersons for the Ministry of Defense were very cautious, but now they are coming out with unreasonable statements, which will be difficult to reverse. “

Wu Qiang, an independent researcher at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the official response seems to be changing day by day since the row over Pelosi’s trip exploded.

“[The official line] is changing day by day, and it is colored by opportunism and ambiguity,” Wu said. unrest in China ahead of the 20th Party Congress.”

“They also don’t want an expansion of popular nationalism following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan…the CCP is wary of nationalist sentiment ahead of the 20th Party Congress,” Wu said.

Wu said many in China see the current standoff as the starting point for a longer-term struggle for Taiwan.

International relations scholar Zong Tao agrees, saying further immediate deterioration in China-US relations is unlikely.

“Basically, China won’t take big steps, because its main focus is still the 20th CPC National Congress,” Zong said. “Taiwan isn’t: it’s more a way for them to channel as much popular support as possible.”

If Pelosi decides not to make his unofficial trip, it would not play well in Japan, where many want to see broad international support for Taiwan, according to a political analyst.

“If she doesn’t go to Taiwan, it will be seen in Japanese political circles as a case of the United States saying one thing and doing another…and as an indication that the United States is not firmly committed. to defend Taiwan or Japan,” Yang Haiying, a professor at Shizuoka University, told RFA.

“September marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, so if Pelosi does not make a clear statement, Japan and China will definitely use the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations to downplay of the U.S.-Japan Army Alliance,” he said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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