China ramps up military and economic pressure on Taiwan as Pelosi begins visit

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan’s capital Taipei on Tuesday night, kicking off a controversial visit that has already strained challenging ties between Beijing and Washington before it starts.

China has spent weeks warning Pelosi not to go to the disputed territory, which Beijing considers a Chinese province but sees itself as an independent country.

These warnings escalated into actions in the hours before Pelosi’s arrival, marking the first time in 25 years that a speaker of the US House of Representatives had visited Taiwan. The visit will last almost 24 hours.

Hua Chunying, China’s assistant foreign minister, said in a string of tweets on Tuesday that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a “major political provocation”.

On Tuesday, China reported tax new import ban on more than 100 Taiwanese products, an apparent attempt to impose rapid economic costs on Taipei for its role in Pelosi’s high-profile visit.

China’s military is also beefing up its strength by holding all-day live-fire drills on Saturday, just 80 miles from Taiwan.

On Tuesday, as Pelosi’s visit drew near, the People’s Liberation Army deployed fighter jets to the Taiwan Strait flying very close to the strait’s centerline, which is rarely crossed.

As Pelosi landed on Tuesday night, Chinese state-affiliated media announced that more live-fire drills would be conducted over the next weekend – notably after Pelosi had left. out of the area.

For Chinese experts, the military exercises and public statements are more or less surprising.

“This is just what they have to do,” said Andrew Mertha, director of the Center for China Global Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“Honestly, I would be surprised if Beijing took physical intimidation in any meaningful way. I mean, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I would be surprised indeed. course,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

“What could happen is some follow-up action to demonstrate that China can do something if it wants to,” Mr. Mertha said. “And that will be something for the domestic audience in China as well as for the international audience.”

Later this year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to begin an unprecedented third term as leader of the Communist Party of China.

Diplomats and experts say Xi’s need to bolster public support and power within the party is the lens through which we should look at China’s geopolitical actions.

And this is exactly what makes Pelosi’s visit so provocative.

After weeks of refusing to confirm or deny or discuss a visit to Taiwan, Pelosi published a scathing article in The Washington Post as soon as she landed on Tuesday.

Taiwan, she writes, is “under threat” from Beijing, which she paints as an existential danger for the liberation of people everywhere.

“We made this trip at a time when the world was faced with a choice between autocracy and democracy,” she said. “We can’t just sit back and watch as the CCP proceeds to threaten Taiwan – and democracy itself.”

“The visit of our congressional delegation should be seen as a definitive statement that the United States stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedoms. “

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