August 3, 2022

Pelosi’s Right. Wait … What?

Regardless of our political differences, not caving to ChiCom bullying was the right thing to do.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is currently in Asia visiting allied nations. The trip was originally planned for April but was canceled due to Pelosi succumbing to COVID. Instead, she’s going there while Joe Biden has COVID. Again.

The revival of the Asia journey and specifically the controversial decision to visit Taiwan has been the subject of much conversation. The Chinese government has long insisted that Taiwan is part of China, though the island nation has long been an independent democracy. When Pelosi announced her intentions, Chinese officials began issuing threats. Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1997, and her status as speaker of the House means that she is third in line to the presidency.

When asked about Pelosi’s intended visit before she left, President Joe Biden told reporters, “The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.”

This is underscored by the escalation in aggressive rhetoric from China. Beijing officials said that Pelosi visiting Taiwan would be a “malicious provocation,” and they even threatened to shoot down her plane should she attempt to land on the island. As if to emphasize the threat, the Chinese military announced it would be conducting “live fire” military exercises directly across the Taiwan Strait.

On Monday, in an attempt to help moderate the brewing turmoil, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby publicly stated that Pelosi’s visit wouldn’t change the U.S.‘s “One China” policy of not directly supporting Taiwanese independence. Kirby said: “We have repeatedly said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence, and we have said that we expect cross-straight differences to be resolved by peaceful means.”

As former General Jack Keane said of Pelosi on Fox News: “This is the right decision. This got off on the wrong foot. It’s unfortunate. … It began when someone in the administration leaked the story that the speaker was going to make an unannounced stop.” He pointed out, “When the president intervened and sort of threw water on it [by] saying, 'Well, the military doesn’t see it as the right thing to do,’ well, that made it a huge story because now we have a president disagreeing with the speaker.”

Pelosi, for her part, did not cave to the Chinese threats. She reaffirmed her plans in a press release on Sunday, saying, “Today, our Congressional delegation travels to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region.”

The fact that Beijing’s threats are worse than its usual saber-rattling is definitely cause for concern. Some believe this uptick in threatening language is because of Biden’s diffident and unsupportive public statements and because the Communist Chinese thought they could bully the U.S. into getting their way. Others are concerned Pelosi’s trip could snap the U.S.-China-Taiwan stasis and spark a war.

When Pelosi did land safely in Taipei yesterday, the ChiComs predictably began intimidating. Soldiers marched outside the U.S. embassy in China, Beijing levied sanctions against Taiwan, and the Chinese military encircled the island and prepared to do more live-fire military exercises.

But Pelosi did not back down. Instead, she underscored America’s commitment to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen: “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.” And in a Washington Post op-ed published upon her arrival in Taiwan, she argued, “America’s solidarity with Taiwan is more important today than ever — not only to the 23 million people of the island but also to millions of others oppressed and menaced by the PRC.”

Note that this directly contradicts what John Kirby said to placate the Chinese only a day earlier. It seemingly further displays a disconnect between the speaker and the president.

Pelosi, for all her faults, understands something that a number in her party do not: By bringing high-profile attention to Taiwan, China and its machinations are exposed. The communist regime is a bully and a geopolitical adversary that already has too much influence in the U.S.

Pelosi left Taiwan early this morning and is continuing her Indo-Pacific trip with a stop in South Korea. Despite our vehement political differences, this is an opportunity to applaud Pelosi’s bravery in the face of a threatening political adversary.

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