By Pat Buchanan
When Speaker of the
House Nancy Pelosi added to the itinerary of
a valedictory trip through Asia the island
of Taiwan, she could not have been oblivious
to the reaction she would produce in a
Thus, when the
Financial Times revealed that the speaker
would be visiting Taiwan, which China
regards as a breakaway province, an enraged
Beijing took the Pelosi visit to be a
deliberate U.S. provocation.
appears authentic and understandable.
“If the U.S. insists
on going its own way, China will take firm
and forceful measures to firmly safeguard
national sovereignty and territorial
integrity,” a Chinese spokesman told
reporters in Beijing. “The U.S. must bear
all the consequence of the visit.”
Privately, Beijing is
said to be issuing more pointed and serious
warnings, which involve military action.
Pelosi apparently did
not coordinate or clear the visit to Taiwan
with the White House or Defense Department.
Wednesday, President Joe Biden told
reporters: “The military thinks it’s not a
good idea right now” for Pelosi to travel to
So where do we stand?
China is promising
serious retaliation if the highest U.S.
official since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997
flies to Taiwan.
administration is putting out word that it
does not believe that a Pelosi visit to
Taiwan is a wise move, when the Chinese
Communist Party is on the eve of a
conference to decide on a third five-year
term for President Xi Jinping.
If Pelosi postpones
or cancels the visit, it will be seen as a
U.S. climb-down in the face of Chinese
indignation and protest, and an affront to
our friends in Taiwan.
Asia-Pacific rim, the word will be, “The
Americans, faced with China’s firmness,
But if the visit goes
forward, China is publicly committed to
respond. Either way, relations between our
countries will likely suffer, and perhaps
seriously, if the Chinese opt for a military
response to a Pelosi visit.
collision plays out, the U.S. is paying the
price for having adopted, decades ago, a
policy of building up China in the hope and
expectation that Beijing would evolve into a
benign and friendly rival and competitor of
the United States.
most-favored-nation trade status by the
U.S., which also ushered it into the World
Trade Organization, China has moved, since
the turn of the century, from a country with
an economy smaller than Italy’s into a
manufacturing monolith that is the rival of
the United States.
Though China’s navy
is less powerful than the U.S. Navy, it is
now larger in the number of ships it
has moved to claim 90% of the South China
Sea, the Paracel and Spratly island chains,
and most of the rocks and reefs in the
territorial waters of Vietnam, Malaysia,
Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. Some of
these rocks and reefs have been converted by
China into fortified air and naval bases.
China not only claims
Taiwan, and the Taiwan Strait as territorial
waters; it claims the Senkaku Islands,
occupied and claimed by Japan.
In 1972, U.S.
President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger,
in Peking, seemed to concede China’s claim
to Taiwan in the Shanghai Communique that
came out of that historic summit:
“The United States
acknowledges that all Chinese on either side
of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but
one China and that Taiwan is a part of
China. The United States Government does not
challenge that position. It reaffirms its
interest in a peaceful settlement of the
Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.
“With this prospect
in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective
of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and
military installations from Taiwan. In the
meantime, it will progressively reduce its
forces and military installations on Taiwan
as the tension in the area diminishes.”
In 1979, President
Jimmy Carter broke relations with the
Republic of China on Taiwan, recognized
Communist China and abrogated the mutual
security treaty with Taipei dating to 1954.
For the last three
decades, the importation of Chinese-made
goods by the United States and the transfer
of U.S. manufacturing to China to take
advantage of the low wages and productive
labor force have led to many trillions of
dollars in successive China trade surpluses
with us and the rapid emergence of China as
an Asian superpower.
military has made repeated incursions into
Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and
has had a growing number of encounters with
the U.S. Navy and Air Force planes in the
South China Sea.
Meanwhile, Biden has
said the U.S. will fight to defend our ally,
the Philippines, if a collision occurs in
the South China Sea. We will fight to defend
the Senkakus alongside our ally Japan. And,
though his staff has sought to walk it back,
Biden has said we will fight to defend
collision somewhere in the Western Pacific
appears inevitable. The only questions are
when and where.
Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White
House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke
a President and Divided America Forever.”