Pelosi's Taiwan visit opens salvo of a war with China that the US will lose
Published: Aug 03, 2022 02:32 PM
Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

The status quo has finally changed. Any illusion that the US is or ever was committed to the one-China principle has evaporated. The arrival of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and second in line to serve as the Chief Executive in the sitting President's absence has ended decades of reunification efforts. From the perspective of the People's Republic of China, the Three Communiques which set the conditions for US-PRC diplomatic relations are viewed by the US to be worthless pieces of paper. 

Senator Barry Goldwater and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi would have been best friends today and would have made the trip together. Goldwater and his allies were enraged when the United Nations recognized the PRC as sole representative of China and ejected Taiwan from the China seat. 

When the US President extended recognition to the PRC and rescinded a US commitment to defend the ROC, Congress crafted and passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in retaliation. The TRA was poison pill designed to subvert the conditions underlying US-PRC formal diplomatic relations. It has worked exactly as it was designed. The US is openly committed to defending what it has since unilaterally decided is an independent allied nation of Taiwan. 

Anyone in the US government would dismiss that observation as uninformed. The Executive Branch and a few remaining members of Congress robotically insist that the US remains committed to the one-China policy. But the evidence speaks for itself, and the claim is farcical. Since the TRA was signed into law every president has bowed to Taiwan and its fawning champions in the US Congress. Together they have armed Taiwan to the teeth fully conscious that the PRC has always seen the island as one of its provinces. Complementing the US "Porcupine Strategy" to make Taiwan impenetrable is the massive build-up of US forces to contain China and defend Taiwan. 

The stage was set for war and the speaker's visit may have lit the fuse, as the PRC has likely lost all faith in the sincerity of the US on any issue. Washington, D.C. is a Byzantine system of competing power centers. The Executive and Congress are in theory not always in synch. So, when President Biden expressed his and the Department of Defense's (DoD) reservations about the speaker's trip, one might consider that to be healthy democratic discord. Still, by flying aboard a US Force-operated passenger jet transport her travel was endorsed by the DoD and ultimately approved by the president. The speaker's visit was clearly performed in her quasi-Executive Branch capacity as the second in line of presidential succession. While disagreement over the visit appeared credible to outsiders, it was in fact a ruse. 

Some will object to any suggestion of a government subterfuge and point to a previous speaker's visit to Taiwan. But that Congressman also visited the PRC on the same trip. From this they argue Congresswoman Pelosi's visit is not a grave aggravation of political and military tension. Then there are other pundits who will suggest that the speaker intended to cleverly use the media headlines of the trip to force bipartisan admiration of her in Congress. Attention might mask other unflattering controversies and concerns that were affecting her public opinion. 

However, what is happening now transcends personalities, political posturing and scandals. This was the strongest official signal to the PRC to date that the US officially supports Taiwan's secession from the one-China principle. It was the opening salvo of a war between the US and the PRC, a war of the US' own making. Do members of the American public understand the horrors their government is about to inflict on their sons and daughters when they are sent off to fight a wholly inappropriate intervention that the US will lose?

The author is a retired Marine Corps infantry officer and a former Pentagon employee. Opinions are of the author and do not represent the US government. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn