Amid heightened tension in relations between the US and China over the past few years, the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan on Tuesday, defying warnings from Beijing, has sparked a diplomatic row between world’s two most powerful nations and resulted in a spectacle the world doesn’t want to witness. In an apparent retaliation, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted military exercises, including live-fire drills in the Taiwan straits on Thursday and it is expected to continue till Sunday. It has become like a show of strength between the two superpowers. It also appeared that the Biden administration had landed itself in a situation where it could not back out with the stern warning coming from Beijing ahead of the trip, while China too had to show its resentment and send out a message to the world about its stand over the self-ruled island, which it considers to be its territory. For Pelosi, the visit could be a long-awaited desire, being a defender of democratic rights of the people in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. The tensions arising out of this development is unlikely to end in a direct military confrontation, considering the heavy price the parties involved have to pay irrespective of the military strength, but it has surely further affected the relations between the two countries and disturbed peace in the region.
For those closely following the two superpowers walking the diplomatic tightrope over Taiwan for years, the latest development may not come as a surprise. The “One China” policy, an acknowledgement of Beijing’s position on Taiwan which forms the cornerstone of US-China relations, was not firm right from the start. While the US started formal diplomatic ties with China in the 1970s by severing ties with the self-ruled island nation, like many other countries, it continued to maintain informal relations. However, China’s intention to integrate Taiwan, forcibly if necessary, didn’t go down well with the US, while the latter was accused of undermining the One China policy. Given this backdrop, Pelosi’s visit was avoidable, and so too Beijing’s show of military might. Though it is unlikely to result in a war, crisis unfolding from a conflict over Taiwan can create havoc to technology sector across the globe as it is the leading producer of processor chips that are used in smartphones, autos and other gadgets. It could also change the geopolitical trajectory in Asia and disturb the relative peace in the continent. Well, the world is already reeling due to the Russia-Ukraine war with many countries facing food and fuel crisis. Warmongering and provocations have to stop.