Just a year ago, China launched massive live-fire drills to protest Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the first by a U.S. House Speaker since 1997.
In one sense, the military exercises represented a failure for China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP), which could not browbeat the hardy Pelosi into canceling her trip. The then-House speaker kept a high profile during her visit, appearing on live television with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and lauding the island’s democracy.
Yet the Pelosi visit also allowed China to display its growing martial might. It was not the prelude to an invasion — as some in the Beltway feared — or even a dress rehearsal for one. Rather, Pelosi’s visit marked an inflection point after which China sharply escalated its gray-zone military operations near Taiwan, eroding the island’s security even as the U.S. has sought to address Taiwan’s defense shortcomings both through arms sales and closer cooperation with its Indo-Pacific allies.