Let’s hope Nancy Pelosi doesn’t touch off a war

Nancy Pelosi is headed for Taiwan, and may arrive there tomorrow, despite Chinese objections and undefined threats of retaliation if she does.

Many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, say she should ignore the warnings.  The Chinese don’t get to determine where the U.S. Speaker of the House can travel, they say.

But the Chinese government says that Taiwan is part of China, and the U.S. government has never explicitly denied this. This is a red line for China.  For them, saying the Chinese government has no say over who visits Taiwan is like saying the U.S. government has no say over who visits Puerto Rico or Hawaii.

President Xi Jinping told President Biden on Thursday that, for China, this is a red line that must not be crossed. The Global Times, a semi-official Chinese newspaper, wrote this:

“Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” – a phrase that was used by the People’s Daily in 1962 before China was forced to fight the border war with India and ahead of the 1979 China-Vietnam War, was frequently mentioned during a forum held Friday by a high-level Chinese think tank, as analysts warned that open military options and comprehensive countermeasures ranging from the economy to diplomacy from China await if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gambles with a visit to the Taiwan island during her Asia tour.

On Thursday night, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, during which he once again warned the US about the seriousness and significance of the Taiwan question and said, “Public opinion cannot be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this.”

In the recent week, in response to Pelosi’s potential visit to the island of Taiwan, a string of warnings have also been made by different ministries and departments of China. On Friday, the Institute of Taiwan Studies in Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – the highest-level think tank – held a forum with analysts and discussed the damage of Pelosi’s possible Taiwan island visit to the China-US relations, cross-Straits stability and regional and global peace, and China’s countermeasures.

Sending fighter jets to intercept Pelosi’s plane, declaring air and maritime zones around the island of Taiwan as restriction zones for military exercises … China’s responses will be systematical and not limited to small scale given the severity of Pelosi’s move and the damage to the political trust of China-US relations, Yang Mingjie, head of the Institute of Taiwan Studies in Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. [snip]

Yang noted that China has reiterated its opposition to Pelosi’s possible visit and used the phrase “yanzhen yidai” – literally meaning “streamlining army formation to wait for the enemy” – to show that we have made all preparations for combats or any challenges. 

There are multiple measures the PLA can take once Pelosi flies to the island of Taiwan. For example, Chinese fighter jets can fly along with and monitor the plane that Pelosi takes and fly over the airport where her plane lands in Taiwan, Wang Yunfei, a naval expert, told the Global Times.

The PLA can also declare air and maritime zones around the island of Taiwan as restricted zones to resist Pelosi’s plane. Chinese fighter jets can also fly across the island to start a new model to fight against the military actions of secessionists on the island, Wang said, noting that sending missiles surrounding the island of Taiwan and conducting military drills are also options.  

Analysts on the military also noted that the PLA can conduct large-scale military drills around the island of Taiwan, including on the waters between Taiwan island and Japan as well as between Taiwan island and Guam. The PLA drills would also include joint efforts of all PLA service branches, with all combat elements including electronic warfare, missile and long-range rocket strikes, seizing of air superiority and control of the sea, amphibious landing, as well as anti-access and area denial against external military interference.

Live-fire drills will be held and waters near Pingtan in Fuzhou, East China’s Fujian will be sealed from 8am to 9pm on Saturday, the local authorities announced on Friday. Pingtan is 125 kilometers away from the island of Taiwan.
Today the Global Times reported:
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are keeping up the pressure on the US over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to the island of Taiwan, urging the US to honor US President Joe Biden’s promise to not support “Taiwan independence,” while media outlets from the US and Taiwan reported that Pelosi is expected to visit the island shortly.

In celebration of the 95th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, the PLA Eastern Theater Command on Monday released a video on social media, along with the message “We are fully prepared for any eventuality. Fight upon order, bury every intruder, move toward joint and successful operation!” [snip]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian also said at a routine Monday press conference, “If you play with fire, you will get burned. I believe the US is fully aware of the strong and clear message delivered by China.”

If Pelosi visits the island of Taiwan, “the PLA will not sit idly by” and will take “resolute and strong countermeasures” to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As to what these measures are, Zhao said “if she dares to go, let’s wait and see.”

What the US should do now is to fulfill US President Joe Biden’s promise of not supporting “Taiwan Independence” secessionism, and not arrange for House Speaker Pelosi to visit the island of Taiwan, Zhao stressed while answering questions related to Pelosi’s Asia trip

Pelosi reportedly is not reconsidering her decision.  Hopefully any Chinese demonstration of military power will be conducted without incident and without touching off a broader conflict.  But why take the risk?

The people on Taiwan have created a prosperous and free society that is a good example to the world.  The government in Beijing is not interfering with them, so long as everyone pays lip service to the principle that Taiwan is part of China.  

What is the benefit to the people of the U.S. or the people on Taiwan of raising the independence issue at this time?  What does Pelosi think she’s accomplishing?


What is the U.S. “One China” Policy and Why Does It Matter? by Michael J. Green and Bonnie S. Glaser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Why I’m leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for The Washington Post.  [Added 08/02/2022]

Is Pelosi’s Trip to Taiwan the ‘Pearl Harbor Moment’ Jake Sullivan Called For? by Cynthia Chung for the Strategic Culture Foundation.  [Added 08/02/2022]

Nancy Pelosi Could Get Us All Killed by Norman Solomon for Counterpunch. [Added 08/02/2022]

Don’t say we didn’t warn you – Symposium of China’s top think tank sends classic, pre-war warning to provocative Pelosi by the staff of Global Times.

China sternly warns Biden admin not to arrange Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, PLA ‘will not sit idly by’ by Wang Qi for the Global Times.

Chinese Army Tells Citizens to ‘Prepare for War’ Amid warnings to US Over Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip by Micaela Burrow for the Daily Caller.

China Is Issuing the Same ‘Red Line’ Warnings About Taiwan That Russia Issued Over Ukraine by Caitlin Johnstone.

One China Eyepoking Too Far: Biden Signals US Not Backing Down on Taiwan Visit as China Promises Military Response by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

U.S. military making plans in case Pelosi travels to Taiwan by Lolita C. Baldor and Ellen Knickmeyer for the Associated Press.

US House Speaker Pelosi begins Asia tour, no mention of Taiwan by Al Jazeera.  [Added Later]

China is still playing the long game on Taiwan by M.K. Bradrakumar for Indian Punchline.  [Added Later]

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7 Responses to “Let’s hope Nancy Pelosi doesn’t touch off a war”

  1. thefreeonline Says:

    Reblogged this on The Free.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Que sera sera.

    Pelosi visiting Taiwan is meaningless and changes nothing in the grand scheme of things. China wants to be able to tell the world it was able to proscribe US actions as a propaganda win. Xi posturing before the big party meeting so he can get another term. If we ignore him, he wants to be able to say he did “something” in reaction as a fallback position. Short of shooting her down, we’ll accept whatever. The US now wants to discourage the idea that we can be told that Taiwan is off limits. If we yield on this, then next time they’ll draw the “red line” a bit further out. It is a grand kabuki dance.

    Consider if the Chinese hadn’t suddenly decided yell “red line,” Pelosi’s visit would be a minor blurb in the news. Most mainland Chinese would never know about it.

    China knows it is dead meat if it gets into a war with the US. It’s best chance is to bide its time until another isolationist lands in the Whitehouse and then it can do as it wishes.

    If you allow bullies to go about drawing red lines as they will, you will soon find yourself inside a very small red circle. Russia like to draw self serving red lines too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patrick Berting Says:

      I agree with Fred. It sets a bad precedent to allow Xi to dictate where a US official can go. My only caveat is that the timing is bad. It would be better to wait until the war Ukraine is over – you don’t want hostilities in two fronts. The Free World needs to wake up to the threat posed by the Dragon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fred (Au Natural) Says:

        Congresscritters have gone there before without all this drama. This is just Xi ratcheting things up for domestic consumption.

        Xi confuses acting dangerous with being strong. China was stronger before it became so belicose.

        The continuation of the war in Ukraine is not ging to be over for quite a while. Certainly not this year. Most likely it will morph into a frozen conflict again, just like it did in 2014, with neither side capable of delivering a killing blow. Zelinsky wants to stop the Russian advance and maybe take back some land before that happens. The whole point of Ukraine fighting the war is to maintain as much free Ukraine as possible without becoming a Russian puppet state like Belarus..

        Strategically, I don’t see Ukraine as being a drain on resources that hypothetically might be needed against China. Not much use for M777s and HIMARS on the high seas and that’s where Taiwan would be won or lost.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. philebersole Says:

    Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited China and Taiwan in 1997 and there was no international crisis.

    The difference between then and now is:

    (1) China was then weak. Now it is strong, especially in its own neighborhood. It can’t project global power as the U.S. tries to do, but in its own neighborhood, it is probably a match for the USA.

    (2) Relations between the U.S. and China were cordial back then (maybe too cordial, but that’s another story). The Pelosi visit comes in the context of a U.S. military buildup directed against China. It’s not crazy for Xi Jinping to think the Pelosi is all part of a plan to incorporate Taiwan into the Western alliance.


    Biden has vastly escalated the new Cold War with China … … He has taken the Obama and Trump policies and put them on steroids. Now American troops are openly deployed to the island of Taiwan training local forces for war with mainland China and more high level officials lead delegations traveling to Taipei. Washington is stepping all over the One-China policy which, for decades, kept the peace. Biden continues to make “gaffes” announcing the U.S. is doing away with the One-China policy. He is seemingly committing Americans to Taiwan’s defense while warships sail through the Taiwan strait on a monthly basis. During his first year in office, Biden nearly doubled the number of air craft carrier strike groups deployed to the South China Sea. For the first half of the year, there were almost non-stop deployments of U.S. Navy surveillance ships in the South China Sea. By November, Biden’s military flew more than 2,000 sorties of spy planes in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Yellow Sea.

    Washington’s western allies have earnestly joined in on the Asia Pivot as well. German, French, British, and Canadian warships were sailing these waters in China’s near abroad last year. This year, NATO – the offensive alliance – targeted China in its new Strategic Concept document.

    The brutal war in Ukraine, and the accelerated nuclear threat, caused by similar policies has not led U.S. policymakers to rethink China’s encirclement. This month, an American air craft carrier strike group sailed into the South China Sea to conduct more war drills and yet another destroyer transited the Taiwan Strait.

    I don’t think that, at this moment in history, the United States is not in good enough shape, our military is not in good enough shape that we can afford to go around picking fights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    My point is that China did not need to make a fuss over it and that China has no real stake in this. The only reason was for Xi to show off to his party Congress that he could tell America what to do. That forces the US into a very awkward position of capitulating to a tyrant or asserting that the Chinese do not get to unilaterally change the rules. Parallels to the appeasement of Hitler are reasonable.

    The Asia pivot and AUKUS and the Quad are direct responses to China deciding to become bellicose.


  5. philebersole Says:

    For the record, I don’t think the Russian invasion of Ukraine was justified and I don’t think a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be justified. But what I think doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is (1) what the Russian and Chinese leaders think they have to go to war to prevent, (2) whether the U.S. government is willing to go to war to stop them and (3) whether the U.S. has the military and economic power to stop them.

    I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that the Russians and Chinese could be defeated by the hollowed-out U.S. military, particularly when fighting near their own borders, and I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Russia and China could be defeated in an economic war.

    I think it is understandable (which is different from justifiable) that President Xi Jinping would go to war to prevent Taiwan from being incorporated into a global NATO and that he would take House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan as a signal that this is in the works.


    I think there is a small but real risk of war over Taiwan in the next few days, even if neither side really wants it. But even if luck holds out, Pelosi will have been exposed as reckless, President Joe Biden as weak and U.S. policy as incoherent.


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