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Opinion

The Biden-Pelosi's strategic ambiguity on Taiwan

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

While on a speaking tour and lecture safari in Spain and Portugal precisely on geopolitics, our team of 17 academics and journalists were jolted to hear that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei, Tuesday night, totally ignoring the stern warning of China President Xi Jinping that any of such visit would be deemed a provocation and Beijing warned of severe consequences. But the eagle has landed and Beijing called it a dangerous game of playing with fire.

Why did Washington make such a risky gambit which could trigger a nuclear war between two superpowers? Well, the US foreign policy on Taiwan and the Asia Pacific region has always been anchored on its so-called strategic ambiguity. To President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party, which is facing midterm elections come November, the US government has to make a strong political statement that the US is still the strongest global superpower.

The Democrats want a high score in geopolitics so as to show the American voters that the Democratic administration will not be bullied by Beijing. America will visit any place it wishes to and that Washington is not afraid of Beijing.

Taiwan also rejoices with Pelosi's visit for it is a message to the whole world that America stands firm and determined to defend democracy in this island of 23 million people. China has of late been showing military might by conducting incursions into Taiwanese territorial waters and flying over Taiwan's airspace.

A number of military exercises have been conducted by Beijing palpably showing to Taiwanese people that the island is a mere province of China and is in fact not recognized by the international community of nations as an independent and sovereign state. The USA has time and again declared that it respects the One China policy but any invasion by Beijing of Taiwan will elicit quick and decisive action by Washington.

I think this Biden-Pelosi gambit is a landmark victory for America but Washington should expect and prepare for retaliation from Beijing, ranging from mere escalation of military maneuvers and military exercises by China to a brink of a nuclear confrontation.

I also believe that China is not in a position to confront America at this point in time. President Xi is preparing for a very important national congress of the communist party and any false move by his government would endanger his political position in both the party and the government. China is also besieged by a serious financial crisis triggered by a bank run driven by a meltdown of its property business sector.

Pelosi has chosen to bypass Manila and did not include our country in her itinerary. It could only mean that Washington is confident that the new administration of president BBM will still be as an ally of America, unlike the government of former president Duterte.

The USA does not consider the Philippines as in danger of tilting towards Beijing, especially when the Philippine president declared that his government will seek an enforcement of the international arbitral victory of Manila over Beijing on the West Philippine Sea. Thus this Pelosi visit to Asia Pacific is intended to manifest America's priority, which is Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The Philippines and the rest of ASEAN can wait for a later visit.

The visit by Pelosi is a loss of face on the part of President Xi. He warned Washington of serious consequences. Still the feisty lady from California and the number three top official in the American government went there anyway. Now, the ball will be in the hands of Xi. Let us wait what severe consequences he will bring about.

This is a test of wills reminiscent of the brink of the nuclear collision during the Eisenhower administration. Also reminds us of President John F. Kennedy's gambit in the Bay of Pigs during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. There is a tempest in the Asia Pacific basin. Let us hold our breath for the next crisis to erupt in our part of the world.

NANCY PELOSI

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