Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, and now Nancy Pelosi: Always a problem with Taiwan
The United States does not officially recognize Taiwan, but will officially support the island against neighboring China. Nothing symbolizes the complex path better than contacts with the island, as some American politicians have had to learn.
The penultimate time the exchange between the United States and Taiwan caused problems was in December 2016. At that time, US President-elect Donald Trump was still waiting to be formally sworn in, but he was already receiving congratulatory calls. Someone got it on Friday, December 2nd. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen answered the phone. In addition to the congratulations, the conversation also discussed “the close economic, political and security relations between Taiwan and the United States,” Trump’s team later said.
Trump’s naive invitation to Taiwan
But the conversation was not diplomatic and smooth, as it was the first official conversation between the United States and the island republic since 1979. Trump, who was not sitting in the White House, broke the decades-old American foreign policy habits of the past. take office. He later said, “I don’t know why I didn’t have to answer the call.” In the weeks that followed, the answer came from almost everyone and read: The United States follows a “one China policy,” which means it does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country – but the phone call between the representatives actually indicated just the opposite.
The call, arranged by a member of the American lobby, was a huge success for the government in Taipei. However, at the expense of the already strained relationship with China. Not much has changed since then, which is why Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit has caused so much concern. The top Democratic politician is not head of state, but as Speaker of the House of Representatives she is still number three in the official hierarchy of the United States. China described your reported flight as “extremely dangerous playing with fire”.
Military exercises during a state visit
For the government in Beijing, the island of 23 million is part of the People’s Republic of China, and the regime regards state visits as a provocation. That’s why she flexed her muscles right before Pelosi landed: Chinese Su-35 fighter jets flew over the Taiwan Strait. In addition, China announced exercises with target practice in six maritime zones around the DPRK.
A senior US politician had visited Taiwan earlier in 1997. Pelosi’s predecessor was Republican Newt Gingrich. At that time, the British Crown Colony in Hong Kong was about to return to China. Known for his undiplomatic style, Gingrich gave a speech at the American Taipei Institute in Taiwan, which is the unofficial US embassy. “It is important to make clear to both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan that if Beijing attempts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, by force or intimidation, the United States will use all means necessary to prevent it,” he said.
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This open declaration of support was not well received by the Chinese government. But apart from criticizing Gingrich’s remarks, there was not much reaction. Unlike today, the Chinese army was not as strong as studies have shown. But in terms of content, the governor has already expressed the official position of the White House now: if China attacks the neighboring island, the United States will provide Taiwan with military support. This was recently confirmed by US President Joe Biden: “Yes, we have that commitment,” he said during his visit to Japan.
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