US Policy And Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit
The visit of Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan is not a casual stop during her tour of Asia. It is a calculated act of US state policy, even though the Biden administration feels uneasy about it. As she is travelling throughout Asia, her visit to Taiwan may seem less significant since a trip to Taiwan alone would have appeared rather provocative to China.
Pelosi’s visit is meant to convey US support for Taiwan’s sovereignty to Chinese allies and adversaries, including China, who have questioned the US’s commitment to engage in a direct military confrontation. Consequently, China has banned hundreds of Taiwanese exports and ordered a mobilisation to send out a strong message of disapproval, threatening Taiwan with invasion.
Taiwan tensions have been exacerbated by the ill-advised US military action in Ukraine. Pelosi’s desire as a prominent and influential Democrat is to assure the public of US readiness to engage militarily over Taiwan should circumstances require it.
As China displays growing hostility on all fronts, the US must firmly announce its national goals and intentions in an uncertain situation regarding Taiwan. The US will suffer a historic setback in Taiwan if it falls behind its rival China.
Due to its location, Taiwan possesses major geopolitical and strategic significance; its occupation would empower China’s naval strategy to the degree that would threaten all Asian nations in the region. American historian and naval officer Alfred Mahan argued that command of the seas is the key to global power.
The Sino-American conflict over Taiwan is a vivid illustration of that argument. Located between Japan and Southeast Asia, Taiwan is the largest island in the archipelago. It is thirty times larger than Okinawa, where US forces are based, making it a significant force in the Pacific region.
As long as China controls Taiwan, it may operate east of the first island chain separating it from the Pacific. It would have increased freedom of operation in the ocean and would prevent the US from controlling other nearby islands. If Taiwan lost peacefully or forcefully, it would alter the Western Pacific power balance irreparably.
A recent global semiconductor shortage has also highlighted Taiwan’s importance as a technological and economic powerhouse. An analyst pointed out that the US has armed China to deter an invasion. F-16V Vipers have been sold to the country, augmenting its 140 F-16s. Also sold to Taipei were M-1 tanks, Apache attack helicopters, and missiles.
The high-tech fighter, the ‘jump jet’ version of the F-35, would greatly improve Taiwan’s ability to defend its air bases, which would otherwise be groundable due to their invisibility to radar devices.
Taiwan’s arming is meant to replace US armed intervention in the event of Chinese aggression. Because anti-war sentiment is widely known in the US, and arms transfers signal Taiwan’s ability to resist, this is an important issue since China is assessing the extent of US commitment to Taiwan.
Sino-American conflict over Taiwan may occur through the seas, but the US navy remains capable of inflicting significant damage on Chinese seaborne or aerial attacks. Taiwan plays a strategically critical role in geopolitical calculations and regional concerns.
Defining the contours of their respective spheres of influence is the objective of the ongoing Sino-American manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific region. Neither country will unilaterally dominate the other, as there is no unfinished agenda.
Both nuclear powers believe that the prospects of total war to ensure complete victory for either are anathema. As an extension of the Taiwanese competition over jurisdiction over the South China Seas, China seeks to exert a monopoly over these waters. China could exercise control over the South China Sea as it showed its military capability.
However, it is failing to force other countries to comply with Chinese assertions of sovereignty over the Indo-China Sea area through their activities in their territorial waters. Against this backdrop, China’s activity in the adjacent Indian ocean challenges India’s relatively modest navy.
As a result of this decision, Chinese international commerce, which must pass through the narrow Malacca Straits, could be at risk of disruption. The Sino-Indian border dispute plays a role here, as China would like to avoid involvement on two fronts.
Although the US would not want India to suffer a setback during any military conflict with China, a Sino-Indian deadlock and continuing mutual mobilisation, rather than resolving their dispute, is the US’s preferred logical outcome, as it affects China’s Taiwan calculus.
The other countries affected by any major conflict over Taiwan will likely assist the US. Still, they should be cautious because if the US were to win, they’d almost certainly be held responsible. During the Vietnam War, the US devastated Cambodia and Laos.
The US greatly assists India on several levels, especially intelligence, yet India’s manoeuvres are limited. As soon as any Indian government appears to be negotiating with China, the US might try regime change as its favourite foreign policy pastime.
Edited by Prakriti Arora