US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi would do well to skip Taiwan in the course of her tour of Asian countries. The global situation is too fraught in the wake of the Ukraine war for the US to be toying with any thought of brinkmanship in this matter as the country has no diplomatic ties with the self-ruled island over which China has nurtured a decades-long claim.
Admirable as the clear lines of delineation among the three arms of US democracy is, it would not only be in the US national interest but also that of the world for the Speaker to skip Taiwan. Also, no high-ranking US official has visited the island for 25 years though the US is bound to provide the island the means to defend itself.
Any trip likely to ratchet up global tensions further would be most unwelcome, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping minced no words in handing out a dire warning about Taiwan — “those who play with fire will perish by it” — that is still green in memory as it was served only on Thursday when he spoke with US President Joe Biden for well over two hours on the phone.
It is a good sign that amid the stress of the East and the West coming closest to Cold War II in the new millennium that the Presidents of US and China are talking to each other and there is also the possibility of their meeting in person soon. But it was too important to dial down Taiwan tensions because the proposed Pelosi visit led to war cries from within China with a unit of the PLA using that very word — “prepare for war” — on China’s most popular social media platform Weibo.
It might seem the US is acceding to China’s protests and heeding its signalling through the conduct of live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend if the Speaker were to skip the island in her tour that involves four stops in Asian countries. This is not the time for provocations when China’s position vis-à-vis Russia and its invasion of Ukraine is known and the world, whose economy has already been battered by war, just cannot afford another conflagration. Will the superpowers see reason at least now?...