Nancy Pelosi promises U.S. support for Taiwan

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan, an article was published under her byline in The Washington Post.  She wrote that the U.S. must “stand by” Taiwan, “America stands with Taiwan,” “We cannot stand by as the CCP proceeds to threaten Taiwan,” “we never give in to autocrats” and “the freedoms of Taiwan … must be respected.”

What does this mean?  Is she saying the United States would go to war with China to protect Taiwan’s independence?  If so, by what authority does she make that promise?

Or is she saying that the United States would stand by Taiwan in the same way it is standing by Ukraine?  Is she saying the U.S. is willing to fight to the last Taiwanese?   If I were a Chinese person living on Taiwan, I would find her language disturbingly vague.

I have sympathy and admiration for the Chinese on Taiwan.  They are one of the world’s most successful societies.  They are an asset and example to the world, in terms of democracy, individual freedom and material progress.

So far the Chinese government in Beijing have been willing to tolerate their self-rule so long as they are peaceful and don’t demand recognition as an independent country.

But I don’t think President Xi would tolerate a Taiwan that was the spearhead of a NATO-type anti-Chinese alliance, any more than Vladimir Putin was willing to tolerate a Ukraine in that rule.

Is the United States willing to go to war for Taiwan?  No.  Could the USA win a proxy war with China, fighting to the last Taiwanese?  No.  Could the USA actually win a war with China, using its own forces?  Doubtful.

China is a threat to U.S. economic and military supremacy, but the reason it is a threat is that it is overtaking the USA economically, technologically and, yes, militarily.  If we Americans want to have a strong and prosperous nation, we need to regroup and rebuild our strength at home, not provoke crises.

[Added 08/03/2022]  Some think President Xi has lost face because of his relatively weak response.  But that is assuming that his response has to be immediate.  President Putin waited eight years before responding to the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014.  

It is true that, in Rep. Pelosi’s case, her visit is a symbolic action that does not, in and of itself, change anything.  But I do think that Xi, like Putin, has lost hope of improving relations with the United States.


For the record, here is the full article published in The Washington Post on Aug. 2 under Speaker Pelosi’s byline.

Some 43 years ago, the United States Congress overwhelmingly passed — and President Jimmy Carter signed into law — the Taiwan Relations Act, one of the most important pillars of U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific.

The Taiwan Relations Act set out America’s commitment to a democratic Taiwan, providing the framework for an economic and diplomatic relationship that would quickly flourish into a key partnership. It fostered a deep friendship rooted in shared interests and values: self-determination and self-government, democracy and freedom, human dignity and human rights.

And it made a solemn vow by the United States to support the defense of Taiwan: “to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”

Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience. Taiwan is a leader in governance: currently, in addressing the covid-19 pandemic and championing environmental conservation and climate action. It is a leader in peace, security and economic dynamism: with an entrepreneurial spirit, culture of innovation and technological prowess that are envies of the world.

Yet, disturbingly, this vibrant, robust democracy — named one of the freest in the world by Freedom House and proudly led by a woman, President Tsai Ing-wen — is under threat.

In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is “likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”

The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC.

In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.

Our visit — one of several congressional delegations to the island — in no way contradicts the long-standing one-China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.

Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Pacific — including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance. Our discussions with our Taiwanese partners will focus on reaffirming our support for the island and promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. America’s solidarity with Taiwan is more important today than ever — not only to the 23 million people of the island but also to millions of others oppressed and menaced by the PRC.

Thirty years ago, I traveled in a bipartisan congressional delegation to China, where, in Tiananmen Square, we unfurled a black-and-white banner that read, “To those who died for democracy in China.” Uniformed police pursued us as we left the square. Since then, Beijing’s abysmal human rights record and disregard for the rule of law continue, as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on power.

The CCP’s brutal crackdown against Hong Kong’s political freedoms and human rights — even arresting Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen — cast the promises of “one-country, two-systems” into the dustbin. In Tibet, the CCP has long led a campaign to erase the Tibetan people’s language, culture, religion and identity. In Xinjiang, Beijing is perpetrating genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities. And throughout the mainland, the CCP continues to target and arrest activists, religious-freedom leaders and others who dare to defy the regime.

We cannot stand by as the CCP proceeds to threaten Taiwan — and democracy itself.

Indeed, we take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy. As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.

When I led a congressional delegation to Kyiv in April — the highest-level U.S. visit to the besieged nation — I conveyed to President Volodymyr Zelensky that we admired his people’s defense of democracy for Ukraine and for democracy worldwide.

By traveling to Taiwan, we honor our commitment to democracy: reaffirming that the freedoms of Taiwan — and all democracies — must be respected.

The role of the House of Representatives in foreign and military policy is to determine how much can be spent and for what and to hold public hearings on whether our policy is correct and is being implemented properly.  Its representatives have no mandate to engage in diplomacy themselves.

But I don’t think Pelosi is a loose cannon, acting for herself alone.  She represents a war hawk faction in Washington that may or may not want war, but is willing to go to the brink of war.

My fears about Pelosi’s visit triggering a war were overblown.  But her visit makes eventual war a greater possibility.  

[Added 08/03/2022] And, as the articles linked below show, there are a lot of things China can do to make things hard for the people on Taiwan short of a Normandy-type invasion.


Nancy Pelosi, China and the Slow Decline of the U.S. Military by Matt Stoller [Added 08/04/2022]

PLA drills around Taiwan continue to rehearse unification operation after Pelosi’s visit, ‘exercises blockading island to become routine’ by Global Times.  [Added 08/04/2022]

How Pelosi’s visit hurts Taiwan by Bernhard for Moon of Alabama [Added 08/04/2022]

Nancy Pelosi’s long history of opposing Beijing by Melissa Zhu for BBC News.

Why China could win the new global arms race by David Brown for BBC News.

China’s Hypersonic Future by Shaan Shaikh for Missile Threat.  About China’s missile arsenal.

China to speed up reunification process as it ramps up military readiness against Pelosi’s Taiwan visit by Yang Cheng for Global Times.

Pelosi defends Taiwan visit amid Chinese show of force by Conor Echols for Responsible Statecraft.

21 China Fighter Jets Enter Taiwan Air Defense Zone as Nancy Pelosi Visits by Agence France-Presse.

China Encircling Taiwan With Military Drills in Response to Pelosi Visit by David DeCamp for

Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Will Encourage Gray-Zone Tactics by Minzin Pei for Bloomberg News [Added 08/03/2022]

China’s countermeasures against Pelosi’s Taiwan visit won’t be one-off by the editors of Global Times.  [Added 08/03/2022]

Will China Continue Losing Face? by Larry Johnson for Son of the New American Revolution [Added 08/03/2022]

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2 Responses to “Nancy Pelosi promises U.S. support for Taiwan”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I think that Xi no longer has interest in maintaining good relations with the US. Maybe never did, to begin with, and any good relations early on were fake. China sees its new destiny as being the hegemon of Asia. Probably Africa too. Then they’ll be down to their last serious competition in the US. As Mearsheimer points out, if they pursue that policy they’ll inevitably bump into central US interests and there will be conflict. Maybe war.


  2. philebersole Says:

    The reality is that China is steadily growing stronger, economically and militarily, and the USÅ is steadily growing weaker. I wouldn’t assume the USA would necessarily win if it comes to war.


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