A resident watches a news item about the expected visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Photo: EFE – RITCHIE B. TONGO
1. The conflict between Taiwan and China
Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China, was founded in 1911 after the fall of the Chinese imperial regime. During World War II, which began for China in 1931 when Japan invaded the Manchuria region, the Kuomintang Nationalist Party (KMT) government, commanded by Chiang Kai-shek, chose to concentrate its efforts on fighting the communist militias led by Mao Zedong. This implied an advance of the Japanese forces at the same time as a loss of legitimacy in the Chinese people themselves who perceived in Japan a much worse threat. Thus, after a civil war in which the communists emerged victorious against the KMT, the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, with its capital in Beijing.
Follow our live stream of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan: “The trip honors the US commitment to support democracy”: Pelosi
KMT forces, having lost territorial control in mainland China, moved to the island of Taiwan. While Taiwan sees itself as an autonomous country, China perceives it as a “rogue province” and has vowed to take it back, if necessary, by force.
2. Russia is with China; USA, with Taiwan
Initially, the international community recognized the government of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and not that of Beijing. Things changed in 1970 when, to counter the forces of the Soviet Union, US President Richard Nixon recognized the People’s Republic of China and stopped recognizing Taiwan. From then on, all the countries began to recognize either one State or the other. Currently, Beijing maintains diplomatic relations with more than 175 countries, while Taipei does so with 13.
Since then, the two nations have had a tense coexistence in political and military terms. While Russia has taken the side of China; The United States, while not having diplomatic relations, maintains a “strong unofficial relationship” with Taiwan. Military tensions between both sides have been growing in recent decades and now, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan could be a scene of confrontation. Of course, the United States would hardly have the support of Europe, which faces an existential threat in its own territory, and China would have to compromise its important economic rise.
3. The “one China” principle
The United States has historically maintained a “one China” policy, a policy that could be summed up as follows: it supports self-government in Taiwan, recognizes Chinese sovereignty, and opposes a bid for full independence by Taiwan and a forcible seizure of power by China.
Although John Kirby, press secretary of the Department of Defense, insisted that this policy had not changed and that Pelosi had the right to decide whether to visit Taiwan, China believes that the United States is not being consistent, since “it violated its commitments to maintain only unofficial contacts.
4. Pelosi is known for irritating China.
The speaker of the lower house has always criticized China. Pelosi visited Beijing in 1991, two years after the Chinese military opened fire on protesters in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds if not thousands of people.
Pelosi, accompanied by other congressmen and a group of reporters, unfurled a banner in the square to commemorate the dead students. The banner read: “To those who died for democracy in China.” Mike Chinoy, then a CNN correspondent, recalled in an article this week that Pelosi left the plaza in a taxi. Chinese police arrested the reporters and held them for a few hours, he wrote.
5. Biden’s national security team warned Pelosi not to go to Taiwan
Still, Biden did not directly ask fellow supporter Nancy Pelosi to stop. This, according to analyst Thomas L. Friedman, in order not to appear soft against China in the face of the next legislative elections in which the Republicans could gain strength. The American political system does not allow the president to prevent a diplomatic maneuver by the speaker of the House.
We recommend: Taiwan, China and the tense itinerary of Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi is the highest-level US official to go to the island since 1997, when the House Speaker, Republican Newt Gingrich, did it. However, back then the visit caused less controversy and she even visited Beijing.
👀🌎📄 Have you already heard about the latest news in the world? We invite you to see them in El Espectador.