we explain why Nancy Pelosi’s visit has strained relations between China and the United States

He announced “come in peace”. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday August 3, after a controversial visit to the island claimed by China in less than 24 hours, as part of her tour of several Asian countries. His rare visit comes as tensions have escalated in recent days between China and the United States. The 82-year-old “speaker” is the highest elected American official to visit the archipelago in twenty-five years.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary, has already announced retaliation. Franceinfo explains the issues surrounding this recent rise in tensions between China and the United States.

Why did this visit upset Beijing?

While the trip to Taiwan was not included in Nancy Pelosi’s diary, many American and Taiwanese press titles mentioned her visit and a meeting with the president of the island. The senior US official finally arrived on the island on Tuesday night aboard a US military plane, greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

China immediately opposed this visit because it considers Taiwan part of its territory and refused any initiative that gives Taiwan’s authority international legitimacy. US officials regularly visit the island. But China judged that the visit of Nancy Pelosi, the third person in the American state, was a big challenge. Last week, in a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the United States not to “don’t play with fire”.

Since 1979, and the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and the United States initiated by President Jimmy Carter, Washington has recognized only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide support to the authorities. in Taiwan, especially through large-scale arms sales. The United States also practices “strategic ambiguity”a diplomatic position in which the country refrains from saying whether or not to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an invasion.

Why did Nancy Pelosi decide to go to Taiwan despite these threats?

The 82-year-old “speaker” said in a statement that his visit to Taiwan reflects the “unconditional support” in the United States “towards dynamic democracy” on the island. The elected Democrat added that this visit was unopposed“can’t” longstanding US policy towards China.

In a column published in parallel with Washington post (in English), Nancy Pelosi also assured that her visit to Taiwan aims to“is on Taiwan’s side (…) where democracy is threatened”.

Asked by franceinfo, François Bougon, Médiapart journalist and specialist in China, recalled that this visit was not made at the initiative of the American administration. Here we see the importance of Congress in American policy vis-à-vis Taiwan.he analyzed.

The White House, however, said Monday that Nancy Pelosi has “right to visit Taiwan” : “There is no reason for Beijing to make this visit, without abandoning the long-standing American doctrine, a form of crisis”said his spokesman, John Kirby.

What is the situation in Taiwan in cœur in these tensions?

The island’s status dates back to the history of its relationship with China. And more precisely in 1949, when the communist forces led by Mao Zedong seized power in Beijing, overthrowing the government of the nationalist Kuomintang party, the head of the country since 1912. The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed. The ousted executive was exiled to the island of Taiwan and established the Republic of China (ROC, in English) there. Both regimes continue to claim control over Chinese territory.

Now, more than seventy years later and while the archipelago no longer claims control over all Chinese territory, Beijing still considers that Taiwan should be reintegrated into the communist regime. And Xi Jinping’s country does not hesitate to show muscles in the face of any attempt at independence. As proof, the Chinese authorities have continued to increase the pressure on Taiwan since the coming to power in 2016 of the current president Tsai Ing-wen, from a pro-independence party.

Internationally, Taiwan’s situation remains unclear. The ROC has not had a seat in the UN since 1971, recalls Le Figaro. And its existence is recognized only in 15 small countries, according to The world. but “Taiwan actually has all the characteristics of a state”outlined by franceinfo Françoise Mengin, research director of CERI (International Research Center) Sciences Po, in November 2021. The island, which has a democratic system, has been ruled by its own power since the victory of the communists in 1949.

What retaliations has China already announced?

After Nancy Pelosi’s visit, China criticized the behavior “very dangerous” in the United States, promises “targeted military action”. The country specifically announced the invasion of more than 200 military planes into its air defense zone located not far from the border of the archipelago.

Even before the arrival of Nancy Pelosi, dthe “Chinese Su-35 fighter jets” there it is “crossed the Taiwan Strait”which separates mainland China from the island claimed by Beijing, announced Chinese state television CGTN.

The army operation refers to “fully supports national sovereignty and territorial integrity and firmly opposes external interference and separatist attempts at ‘Taiwan independence'”, said the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Defense. Military exercises are planned around the island.

Beijing’s commerce ministry also announced economic sanctions, such as suspending Taiwan’s export of natural sand – a key ingredient in the production of semiconductors, one of the island’s top exports. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with trade increasing 26% to $328 billion in 2021, AFP recalled.

Are there risks of military escalation in the region?

The announcement of retaliation from China has worried the archipelago region. Japan said on Wednesday “worried” It is in front of “targeted military action” promised by Beijing, some of which will take place within the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

For Sylvie Bermann, former French ambassador to China, there is currently no real risk of escalation. Asked about France Inter on Wednesday, the diplomat believed that China would continue with a show of force and economic sanctions.

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