U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan has incited a predictably strong response from China.
Chinese warplanes have brushed up against the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned of “serious consequences” as a result of Pelosi’s visit to the island. Chinese President Xi Jinping has told U.S. President Joe Biden that “those who play with fire will perish by it.” And now, China has just announced a major military exercise with live-fire drills starting Aug. 4 (just after Pelosi leaves Taiwan). The specter of military confrontation looms large.
But Pelosi is hardly responsible for today’s heightened tensions over the island. Even if she had decided to skip Taipei on her tour of Asia, China’s bellicosity toward Taiwan would have continued to intensify, possibly triggering another Taiwan Strait crisis in the near future.