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US-China relations

A “reckless” visit to Taiwan

Pelosi with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Getty

I have “a lot of respect” for Nancy Pelosi, says Thomas Friedman in The New York Times, but the House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan is “reckless, dangerous and irresponsible”. The most obvious reason is it risks dragging the US into conflict with China. Xi Jinping pointedly warned Joe Biden last week that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”, and the White House national security team urged Pelosi not to make the trip. But Biden refused to press Pelosi himself because he didn’t want to look soft on China ahead of the midterms. So off she went. Sure, there’s an argument that what he should have done is “call Xi’s bluff and back Pelosi to the hilt”. But that might very well have led to “World War III”.

The other reason Pelosi shouldn’t be in Taiwan is Ukraine. Biden has just managed to persuade Xi not to provide its ally Russia with military assistance. Armed with new Chinese drones, Moscow would have a much better chance of achieving its aims in Ukraine. Why would Pelosi risk this crucial diplomatic victory with a “purely symbolic visit” to Taiwan? It is “Geopolitics 101 that you don’t court a two-front war with the other two superpowers” simultaneously. Provoking Beijing now, of all times, will go down as an “awful mistake”.