Photo: Protest in San Francisco Aug. 1 outside Nancy Pelosi’s office opposing her trip to Taiwan
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan today in a dangerous act of provocation designed to push the United States and China closer towards a catastrophic conflict. Her reckless decision raises the specter of all-out war between the two main world powers, and the full consequences of her actions remain to be seen.
While the Biden administration has made public statements distancing itself from Pelosi’s decision, it has also deployed an aircraft carrier off the coast of Taiwan along with accompanying warships. They too share responsibility for whatever happens next.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post to coincide with her arrival in Taiwan, Pelosi ridiculously argued that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship was based on a shared belief in “self-determination and self-government, democracy and freedom”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The dismemberment of Taiwan from the rest of China was a project of colonial powers dating back to the 19th century – the very opposite of self-determination. Between its formation in 1949 through the late 1980s, Taiwan’s government was a dictatorship that ruled through martial law with the backing of the U.S. government.
The real reason why Pelosi and imperialist hawks like her are so supportive of Taiwan is that they know that there is no issue more important to the Chinese government than the independence and unity of its sovereign territory. This is not unique to China – all governments demand respect for the inviolability of their lands.
The Chinese government’s claim that Taiwan is part of China is correct and rooted in history. Taiwan had been part of China for more than 200 years before it was seized by imperialists – the consequence of invasion by the Japanese empire in 1895. The Chinese people fought a long struggle for independence against Japan and a multitude of European colonial powers. At the conclusion of World War Two, a civil war intensified between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party of dictator Chiang Kai-Shek, who was supported by the U.S. government.
Chiang lost to the Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, but his defeated forces retreated to the island of Taiwan. There, he set up a regime that outrageously claimed to be the legitimate government of China and was propped up by massive military and political support from the United States. But even the U.S. government had to eventually recognize the absurdity of this position and officially switched its recognition to the true government of China in Beijing in the 1970s.
But still, the U.S. government maintained its de-facto alliance with the regime in Taiwan, viewing the issue as a useful pressure point to apply against China. A visit by the third-highest ranking official in the U.S. government is rightly seen as a clear act of encouragement for those who hope to forever sever Taiwan from the rest of China.
In this context, the Chinese government has no choice but to react in some way, although the nature of their response is not yet clear. Pelosi is of course well aware of this. China clearly warned Pelosi and the United States ahead of the visit, but with typical imperial arrogance the trip went ahead anyway.
Nancy Pelosi is the highest ranking official in Congress. She should be at home pushing through legislation to alleviate the inflation crisis, legalize abortion, protect the rights of workers, combat climate change, and more. Instead she has decided that her priority is to carry out an extreme provocation that moves further down the path towards war. All those around the world who desire peace should oppose this move.