Taiwan under Chinese military siege as Pelosi seeks votes


This is playing with fire. Even Republicans have applauded Democrat Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. In the United States there is a deep anti-Chinese sentiment flowing in both political streams and they are converging towards the same goal: to diminish Beijing's sphere of influence and prevent it from becoming master of the world in the 21st century.

For the Chinese Communist Party, the totem of the Asian giant's political-economic and ideological structure, the visit to Taiwan by the veteran Speaker of the US House of Representatives is a clear and abject provocation. Not least because she is the third-highest authority in the US House of Representatives. She is the third highest authority in the US government after Vice-President Kamala Harris.

The hornet's nest has been so inflamed that Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defence, announced a high alert in his country with the consequent deployment of the Chinese People's Liberation Army - by sea and by air - from 12 noon on 4 August until 12 noon on 7 August, with military manoeuvres and live fire around Taiwan practically under siege.

There has been no end to the threats, verbal or diplomatic protests or complaints on social media from various officials in Xi Jinping's government. Over the past few days, Twitter has been filled with accusatory complaints against US policy.

Wang Yi called US meddling in the Taiwan issue "despicable"; the Chinese foreign minister warned that "those who play with fire will end up getting burned" - the same words that President Jinping had uttered to Joe Biden in their most recent telephone conversation to dissuade him from Pelosi's trip to the island.

Inside China, officials speak only of retaliation and serious consequences. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Americans will take responsibility and pay the price for undermining Chinese sovereignty.

Such a fuss has been made that investors in Asia reflected their nervousness in the region's stock markets: on 2 August when Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.36 per cent and Taiwan's stock market fell 1.56 per cent.

In contrast, the visit has been well received in the United States. It is good for the US president to show muscle in Asia, considering his approval rating and the proximity of legislative elections in his country.

While inflation is up 9.1%, the highest in four decades in the United States, the popularity of a mummified Biden seeks to soften his free fall: according to the most recent Ipsos poll, published by Reuters, Biden managed to increase his public approval rating by one percentage point prior to Pelosi's trip to Asia.

It now stands at 38% and this is the second week that instead of falling, it has begun to rise marginally; although there is still much to improve and to convince because 57% of Americans disapprove of Biden's job performance.

Pelosi wants to avoid a Democratic landslide in the next legislative elections on 1 November and to avoid losing the control her party holds in both chambers: in the House of Representatives she has the majority with 220 legislators and in the Senate, although there is a tie (50 Republican senators and 50 Democrats) she has the casting vote -for the tie-breaker- of Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is also President of the Senate.

There is an electoral interest in Biden and the Democrats in general, knowing that the only point of communion with the Republicans has to do with undermining China's capacity and fighting terrorism; another coup for the White House is the recent drone assassination of wanted terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri.

US intelligence had been hunting him since the attacks of 11 September 2001, his name was put on the list of masterminds behind the unfortunate events, along with Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the Egyptian took the leadership position in Al Qaeda after Bin Laden's assassination by an elite US troop in 2011.

Al-Zawahiri was killed when a drone fired two Hellfire missiles at him as he walked out onto the terrace of his home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Biden himself confirmed this to reporters at the White House and celebrated the fact that no US servicemen had lost their lives in this "flawless" manoeuvre, which he himself followed comfortably from the Pentagon's operations command.

Pelosi con urticaria a Beijing

In her long political career, especially as a legislator, Pelosi, who turned 82 last January, has made human rights, the defence of freedom and democracy her strategic triangle. Three trump cards she especially shares with Biden because both despise tyrannies and autocracies.

They also share an animosity towards China. The Baltimore-born politician has been frantically consistent in her condemnation of human rights in the Asian country.

Indeed, on 4 August 1991, a young Pelosi of budding political career and then representative of California - accompanied by two other congressional colleagues - unfurled a small black banner in Tiananmen Square with white letters in Chinese: "To those who died for democracy in China".

She wears a grey skirt and a chedron-coloured jacket and holds a discreet white flower in her hand. The historic moment was captured by CBS News reporter Mike Chinoy and filmed by Mitch Farkas for CNN. The two were immediately surrounded - there were five other journalists - by Chinese guards who arrested them as bodyguards escorted the three congressmen out of the Plaza. That moment was etched in their memory.

The leader who has been an established legislator, for many years and for various terms at the head of the House of Representatives, is currently in her 18th term in Congress since she first took office in 1987.

It has virtually seen and been part of many of the great changes that have transformed the world, beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the USSR; the end of the Cold War and the new era of terrorism and rearmament. Everything has changed, but China, which joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) just three months after the 9/11 attacks, has enshrined communism in its constitution under Xi Jinping, favouring an autocracy with a market economy.

In recent years, Pelosi has condemned Beijing's actions to curb free speech in Hong Kong and the persecution of dissidents and opponents of the regime; she has also pointed to the rape and murder of the Uighurs, a minority Muslim community in Xinjiang in western China.

The Uighurs suffer from conversion, persecution and even ethnic cleansing, which has been repeatedly denounced by the White House and has led to the imposition of sanctions against China for the constant violation of human rights applied against its own population. Amnesty International speaks of thousands of children separated from their Uighur parents in conversion centres.

In July 2020, the first to take action was Donald Trump; as president he ordered the US State Department to deny entry to three senior Chinese Communist Party leaders and their family members: Wang Mingshan, party head of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; also Zhu Hailun, party secretary in the province; and Chen Quanguo, party authority in Xinjiang.

In March 2021, despite the change of party in government, the Democrats under Biden have been consistent with Republican Trump's anti-China policy. Together with the UK and Canada, they announced sanctions against several Chinese leaders over the crackdown on the Uighurs for their re-education camps.

Pelosi has on several occasions led her country's implementation of sanctions and condemnation of Beijing's human rights policies against its own minorities, such as the repression in Tibet.

In the case of Taiwan, Pelosi also holds the same view as Biden: respect for self-determination, freedom of expression and human and civic values.

In Taipei, the island's capital, Pelosi remarked that "American solidarity with Taiwan is crucial" and that the Americans will always stand by its side to protect democracy.

During her brief 19-hour stay, the American politician not only met with activists from various NGOs and other popular and political representatives, but was also received by Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, to whom she told her, looking her in the eye, that "we are not going to abandon Taiwan".

In Pelosi's words, her country's solidarity "is crucial" and letting Taiwan know this is the main reason for her trip. The truth is that there was no need to travel there, as President Biden himself made his position on the island very clear when he stated on 23 May during his visit to Japan that he is prepared to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of aggression by China.

Russia supports the Asian giant

On 2 August, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Twitter account published the Kremlin's official position on Pelosi's visit to Taiwan: 'Russia's principled position remains unchanged: we operate under the premise that there is only one China and the Government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing the whole of China, that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China'.

A few days before the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine (24 February), Russian dictator Vladimir Putin met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the opening of the Winter Olympics and used the occasion to sign the Joint Declaration of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China on International Relations Entering a New Era and Global Sustainable Development.

The document, which has been accessed, notes that the parties are "deeply concerned" about serious international security challenges and believe that the destinies of all nations are interconnected.

"The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and opposes any form of Taiwan independence," the text states.

Another part of the document states that: 'Russia and China oppose attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions, intend to counter interference by external forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext, oppose colour revolutions and will increase cooperation in the above-mentioned areas'.

In recent days, President Biden has declared his willingness to negotiate a new nuclear treaty with the Kremlin in place of START III, which is due to expire in 2026.

In an initial response Russia refused.  Days later, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow had "repeatedly" spoken of the need to start negotiations as soon as possible, given that time was short. He called for mutual respect.

The carrot-and-stick policy recurrently used by Washington to make the rest of the world feel its imperialism may be coming to an end.

With Russia, their antagonism is more military and geopolitical, because they often confront each other indirectly by championing opposing causes in other countries' conflicts, as in the case of Syria.

But with China, the obsession is different and has to do with economic power. None of the powerful American multinationals is willing to cede space to their Chinese counterparts... since 2001, the CIA and all strategic analyses have been claiming that China will occupy the economic space of the United States by 2030. And that in itself is a declaration of war for the White House. That is why the United States is doing everything in its power to push Beijing out of its comfort zone, and to set it up for one setback after another in order not to lose its economic influence in the world. The rest of us are collateral damage.