After the Financial Times stated that US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be visiting Taiwan this coming month, the Chinese government warned that it would take ‘forceful measures’ if the visit happened. These measures include military but also strategic consequences for Taiwan, especially as the Chinese government has become increasingly confrontational in recent months.
Indeed, given Russia’s own invasion of Ukraine, some officials of the US government believe China has become emboldened in the face of the general restraint presented by the West in that conflict, to the degree they might be see a territorial land-grab of Taiwan as an option. The incorporation of Taiwan into China has long been a goal of the Communist Party on the mainland. Since the communists won the civil war in China in 1949, and the national government forces led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, there have been tensions between the island and the mainland itself over its status. Tensions which have risen to the highest they have been in forty years. For his part, President Xi Jinping of China has said that ‘reunification’ with Taiwan ‘must be fulfilled,’ and has not rule out the use of force as a possible tool to achieve this goal. Such a use of force might lead to an intervention by US armed forces, and in the worst case, spiral into a war between the US and China.
While the California Democrat has not yet confirmed the trip herself, with the information about the visit coming from several anonymous officials, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has still stated that such a move would represent a ‘serious violation’ as to the diplomatic agreements that have governed US-China relations towards and over Taiwan. Zhao further stated that the US would bear all the consequences of the visit.
While the potential visit itself has not officially materialized, the rhetoric coming from China indicates that there might be significant impacts on the US-China relationship in the near future if it does occur. While conflict between the US and China is unlikely, even over the contentious issues surrounding Taiwan, both states will likely be motivated to defuse tensions given their economic ties and the continued war between Russia and Ukraine in Europe.