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Lessons from the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis

The Taiwan Strait is consistently considered the most likely scenario for a war between the United States and China, with potentially devastating consequences. Therefore, all parties concerned are actively taking precautions. Yet a crisis like the current one highlights the potential for tragic miscalculations by Chinese, American or Taiwanese authorities. It is therefore crucial to draw lessons from the so-called Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis triggered by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei and the subsequent Chinese military response.

(…) It is crucial to learn the lessons of the so-called fourth Taiwan Strait crisis.

The first is that players caught in the middle of the U.S.-China rivalry may have little ability to influence events that could seriously harm them.It is different from Lee Teng-hui’s active visit to the United States in 1995 lobby Overcoming the resistance of the Clinton administration, in this case, the initiative of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan seems to come from her and her team. The Taiwan authorities kept a low profile ahead of the visit, and analysis by experts with access to official actors, such as Shelley Rigg, one of the American scholars who know Taiwan politics best: preferences, and there is no concrete evidence of encouragement by host governments”. In any case, Taiwan is suffering retaliation for Pelosi’s visit, including military exercises so aggressive that they led to a temporary lockdown. de facto On the island, sanctions against Taiwanese companies and foundations, as well as unprecedented cyberattacks on government agencies. Furthermore, this may only be the beginning of an ongoing process of regular access by Chinese warships and/or warplanes to waters and airspace over which Taipei exercises administrative rights and sovereignty. In this sense, the news that the two areas that China has closed for the development of military exercises into Taiwan’s territorial waters and the news that the Chinese military will conduct regular exercises east of the center line in the future are new. Taiwan Strait.

Likewise, Chinese authorities are using the current crisis to warn Japan of the possible consequences if it backs the United States’ eventual military defense of Taiwan, launching five ballistic missiles that hit part of the economic zone’s waters. Japan’s exclusive approach to Taiwan .

Moreover, the entire international community, especially the most vulnerable countries, is hurt by this dispute. We’ve seen it in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now with China suspending cooperation with the US on climate change, it’s critical to promote the Paris Agreement and its aftermath.

The second lesson is that it is wise to seek a new framework of understanding between the United States and China on the Taiwan Strait issue, because the current framework is threatened by China’s growing military assertiveness and the hollowing out of the United States’ One China policy. The dramatic build-up of China’s military capabilities and their increasing use to pressure Taiwan, such as sending fighter jets over its air defense identification zone, has led to a doubling of Taiwan’s military budget by 2022 and sparked heated debate in Washington Regarding the desirability of replacing its strategically ambiguous doctrine, aimed at deterring Chinese attacks on Taiwan and Taiwan’s formal independence, with another strategically explicit doctrine, more focused on deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan.On the other hand, since the Regulations came into effect Taiwan Travel Law In March 2018, Chinese authorities repeatedly called attention at the highest levels to the hollowing out of the United States’ one-China policy. In this sense, the current administration’s tensions are multifaceted, for example, due to Biden’s own statements supporting the defense of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, updating State Department documents on Taiwan, the possibility of changing the name of Taiwan’s representative office in the United States Four batches of arms sales to Taiwan have been approved so far this year, including Taiwan’s designation or approval.Article published in Washington post On August 4, the Chinese ambassador to the United States regarding Pelosi’s explanation of the Chinese government’s rejection of Taiwan was very clear in this regard.

The third lesson is that politics matter and not everything can be explained by changes in the power relationship between Beijing and Washington. In 1997, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, visited Taiwan. Although this was the highest-level visit by a U.S. politician to Taiwan, it did not elicit any military response from China. President Dwight Eisenhower stepped down in 1960. However, 25 years later, the Chinese military responded to Nancy Pelosi’s visit and explained it several times by pointing to the greater power China has today, allowing its authorities to take advantage of the visit to put pressure on Taiwan. As in other parts of the world, changes in the balance of power can affect the decisions of the Chinese authorities, but it cannot be denied that there are other factors of a political nature that are decisive, but irrelevant to this one, as also often pointed out, with the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China The different personalities of Jiang Zemin and Xi Jinping.

If Xi Jinping is looking for an excuse to destabilize the Taiwan Strait and put pressure on Taipei, as senior officials in the Biden administration suggest, he might as well do so in the summer of 2019 after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the US.. Approved in 2018 forward Taiwan Travel Law, the president of Taiwan made a brief stop in the United States, transiting to one of the American countries with which the Republic of China maintains official diplomatic relations, usually in Houston (Texas) to meet with officials from the region and local officials.However, President Tsai was Taiwan Travel Law In 2018, was able to meet with the ambassador to the United Nations of a country that recognized the Republic of China in New York in July 2019, became the first head of state to recognize the Republic of China since 1979, and met with a delegation of members of Congress, chaired by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel and ranking member Republican Michael McCall.

Instead, Jiang Zemin did authorize unprecedented military maneuvers, including launching missiles near Taiwan between July 1995 and March 1996, in response to Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the United States in June 1995. As now, Chinese authorities then resorted to force to try to reverse what they saw as the erosion of the U.S. one-China policy: the 1992 sale of 150 F-16 fighter jets, the 1994 upward revision of the treaty Taiwan diplomats received, and the 1995 Lee Teng-hui The president visits the United States.

Furthermore, the political context is very different when comparing Gingrich’s and Pelosi’s visits. In the first case, the visit comes at a time when the Chinese and American governments are trying to improve relations and the Chinese president enjoys a high profile in the face of the imminent handover of Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty. However, Pelosi’s hearing will be a complicated political backdrop for Xi, who will face the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China this fall, whose support has been boosted by his “zero COVID” policy, the real estate crisis and banking crisis. All of this makes it harder to make decisions that could make it perceived by its own population as a weak leader in the face of the United States and Taiwan. Moreover, on the American side, President Clinton clearly distanced himself from a visit led by non-partisan members of Congress, and Gingrich was willing to accommodate the Chinese government’s request for a visit to Taiwan, where he spent less than three hours when he met with then-Taiwan President and Vice President. For her part, Pelosi described her trip to Taiwan as a struggle with Chinese authorities and an official visit in which she met prominent Chinese dissidents in addition to President Tsai and Taiwanese lawmakers.


IMAGE: The west coast of Taiwan is brightly lit from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA Johnson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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The article Lessons from the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis first appeared on USA News Web.

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