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As Pelosi tours Taiwan, China flexes its military muscle

As Pelosi tours Taiwan, China flexes its military muscle

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down Wednesday on America’s support for Taiwan during her controversial visit to the self-governing island, to which China responded with the biggest show of military force since the last major US-China standoff over Taiwan 25 years ago.

"We are not going to abandon Taiwan," Pelosi said after meeting President Tsai Ing-wen. Pelosi later clarified that she supports the status quo of "strategic ambiguity" under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which means America will help Taiwan defend itself against China without intervening directly.

Beijing's military pushback was swift. China began conducting live-fire drills in waters surrounding Taiwan, including for the first time east of the island and — according to the Taiwanese military — penetrating Taiwan's territorial waters. Chinese fighter jets also entered Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, par for the course when Beijing is upset at Taipei, Washington, or both.

For Taipei, this is an air and sea blockade of the island by China.

China also suspended the import of some 2,000 food products from Taiwan and the export of sand to the island. These moves will hurt Taiwanese agribusinesses that mainly sell to China and construction firms that need the sand to make cement.

What happens next? Pelosi left Taipei on Wednesday night local time, but the fallout from her visit will continue for days and perhaps months to come. Beijing will keep tightening the screws on the Taiwanese, whom they resent for inviting the US House speaker.

It's unclear how the trip might affect US-China relations in the immediate future, but it's going to be a rocky road in the short term. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi won’t be meeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the ASEAN top diplomats’ get-together in Cambodia this week — and any mention of Pelosi’s trip will likely trigger much more than a microaggression in Wang for a long time to come.


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