Here in Taiwan, people really feel that way about Nancy Pelosi .’s visit


Nancy Pelosi’s whirlwind visit to Taiwan ended in less than 24 hours, but in that time the tiny democratic island suddenly became the hottest topic in the world. Prior to Pelosi’s arrival, there were concerns in the United States that the visit could further escalate tensions between Beijing and Washington. In apparent confirmation, the Chinese government was quick to issue a series of stern warnings. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said things will not end well with the US “making itself the enemy of the 1.4 billion Chinese”.

But here in Taipei life remained relatively quiet and businesslike. While international discussion has largely focused on the risks of an escalated military conflict between two of the world’s largest countries, news in Taiwan has largely focused on gossip or news about local politics. For that reason, some may think Taiwanese are indifferent to the potential risks of Pelosi’s visit – especially given the strident tone of the Beijing comments – but the truth is that Taiwanese have just become used to this kind of rhetoric. In Taiwan, measured military threats from China occur almost daily.

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Nevertheless, Pelosi’s arrival still garnered a lot of public support – both for her and for the United States. Many Taiwanese people I spoke to expressed their gratitude for the Speaker’s decision to continue her journey, especially given the rumors that she was discouraged from coming. Some said that while they know Pelosi is likely to retaliate for her visit, Pelosi’s trip provides Taiwan with an unprecedented level of international visibility and gives the world a better understanding of the dilemmas facing the island. Others said Pelosi’s arrival provides a measure of reassurance, and appears to be sending the message that the US is determined to continue supporting Taiwan in the face of an increasingly aggressive China.

Taiwan is already experiencing retaliation from China for this visit. A long list of Taiwanese goods was not allowed to be imported into China while Pelosi was on site. Beijing then announced a four-day live fire drill from the coast encircling Taiwan, starting Thursday. Just a few hours ago, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense announced that more than 20 Chinese military aircraft have flown into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, 22 of which have crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait.

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These tactics may look familiar, but the scale of retaliation in China still caused some concern among local residents. While it seems unlikely that China will seek a direct military conflict against Taiwan any time soon, the proximity of these military exercises to the island sends a clear message: China does not want Taiwan to have any more contact with other countries, especially the United States. .

China has long considered Taiwan its sovereign territory, and since Xi Jinping came to power, rhetoric about reunification with Taiwan — even by force, if necessary — has become more commonplace. And as the war in Ukraine enters its sixth month, some Taiwanese are beginning to change their minds about the major threat China actually poses. While most have become accustomed or even desensitized to the constant threats posed by the larger country in recent years, many are now talking about the need to be able to mobilize a defense against an invading force.

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A number of commentators have wondered aloud whether it is an inevitable fate for the Taiwanese people to find themselves in the midst of two great warring powers. Amid macro discussions about a possible conflict between Beijing and Washington, people here say they’d like the “Taiwanese perspective” to be heard around the world.

As Pelosi moves on to the next leg of her Asia tour in South Korea, people in Taiwan are cautiously awaiting Beijing’s promised four-day military exercise. In preparation, dozens of flights have been canceled and government agencies have begun discussing contingency plans. However, the attention Taiwan is now getting from around the world is encouraging. Despite the obvious ramifications of Pelosi’s journey, most agree that it will be better if more, not less, foreign countries join forces with Taiwan in the near future.


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