China promises military reaction to US visit to Taiwan – 01/08/2022 – World

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s likely visit to Taiwan is shaping up to be a major diplomatic clash with Washington’s main Cold War 2.0 rival, China.

China’s military “will not be sitting around waiting” while the deputy visits the island that Beijing considers a rebel province, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday. It was the most direct military threat made by Beijing since the trip became speculated.

Pelosi is on a trip to Asian countries, starting this Monday in Singapore. Officially, she will be heading to Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, but since last week there are growing signs that she might add a stop in Taipei.

She is frowned upon in Beijing: in 1991, she faked a headache on an official visit and went to Tiananmen Square to protest the massacre of students there two years earlier.

“China has used irresponsible rhetoric,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in commenting on the case. He said that the deputy has the right to go to Taiwan if she wants and that there are no military risks involved in the action by the US – which, if or not, moved the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to the disputed South Sea of China, not far from the island.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he “didn’t know” whether Pelosi would go to Taiwan. It looks like a smokescreen: She is an ally of President Joe Biden, and their party is in trouble in the race for the midterm congressional election in November. A show of force against the main rival always goes down well.

The problem is that provocation can always, as Kirby himself admitted, slide into “the risk of miscalculation” in the highly militarized Taiwan Strait region. President Xi Jinping himself told Biden by phone on Thursday that the US was “playing with fire”.

The Chinese have already made it clear that they will react, which could come in the form of a major air raid against the island’s defenses, more live-fire drills like the weekend ones, or something more incisive.

That something, despite Chinese nationalist bloggers calling for the delusional downing of Pelosi’s plane, would be some sort of deterrent to the plane’s path — perhaps an intercept with fighter jets. Even such an idea sounds aggressive in the extreme.

According to the Taiwanese press, Pelosi could arrive on the island on Tuesday night (2nd morning in Brazil) or Wednesday morning (3rd Tuesday night in Brazil). Three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the same.

For Xi is in a moment of pressure and cannot risk any kind of real confrontation with the US. The restructuring of the country’s real estate market, central to the economy, is running awry: the bankrupt giant Evergrande failed to present the reform plan it had promised to deliver on Sunday (31).

The economic difficulties due to the lockdowns to guarantee the zero Covid policy have also taken a toll. The leader is expected to be reappointed for a third five-year term in November, something unheard of since 1982, when Deng Xiaoping instituted a cap to prevent the perpetuation of personalist leaders.

In Cold War 2.0, Beijing’s closest ally, Russia, has already shown support for China’s Taiwan policy. Americans and allies accuse Xi of preparing an invasion of the island similar to the one that Vladimir Putin decided against Ukraine and, despite the historical contexts being incomparable, the Chinese leader has already made it clear that he wants Taiwan integrated in any way to the mainland dictatorship.

It would not do so now for the very high risk, analysts speculate, of bringing the US into a war. Washington recognizes the Chinese right over the island, but in practice it supports it, equips it with weapons and promises military protection in case of aggression. And there is fear that military action will fail, given the complex features of the Taiwanese terrain.

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