Pelosi's sneaky visit to Taiwan makes ASEAN countries firmer on one-China
Published: Aug 15, 2022 07:57 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The stunt - US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan - was the latest US move in "creeping separatism promotion" involving a series of increasingly higher-level US political visits to the island, even as the government of the Chinese mainland has correspondingly heightened its objections to the visits. While the Biden administration disowned the Pelosi visit, this was belied by Pelosi's use of US military planes, thus exposing once again the treacherous US policy of "strategic ambiguity."

The Philippines, as did ASEAN and the rest of the World, watched the Pelosi-Taiwan tragicomedy unfold while international mainstream and social media followed the flight of Pelosi, which skirted the South China Sea and landed in Taipei like a thief in the night. It skipped the Philippines, which many Filipinos believe is an affirmation of the country's neutrality on the issue.

When Pelosi ended her comedy and departed, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted spectacular and well-planned "military drills" that shook the US. These exercises demonstrated to the world that, 27 years after the 1995 Taiwan Straits crisis when the US had paraded its carrier groups through and around the Taiwan Straits with impunity, China's PLA now fully controls its entire territory and is just waiting to complete peaceful reunification

China's military drills were a communications masterpiece. They completely isolated the island of Taiwan without disturbing anyone else, exhibited its missile capabilities without hurting anything, and challenged the US without taunting. It then escalated the message by cutting off key dialogues and cooperation initiatives with the US. US State Secretary Antony Blinken was forced to call quickly for "de-escalation." Chinese mainland held back a number of Taiwan exports, reminding the island's separatists where its prosperity lies.

Watching from the Philippines, I was so thrilled by the PRC's "winning the war without fighting" that I penned a column in the Philippine News Agency, an official government information platform, entitled "US forever wars ends with the Pelosi-Tsai stunt." 

China and the PLA had effectively shown it cannot lose an Asian war that the US may want to initiate and in the process edging up by many notches the certainty of the peaceful re-integration of Taiwan and ensuring peace in the region.

The United Nations re-affirmed its support for the one-China policy in the midst of the tensions. When confronted by the media, the Philippines likewise reiterated its view of the country's one-China policy. Ms. Clarita Carlos, National Security Adviser to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., reaffirmed  that "now, we are subscribing to what we call a one-China policy which means there's only one China and Taiwan is its province..."

ASEAN is also solidly behind the one-China policy as evidenced by the expanding projects of friendship and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries that is part of the ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that was forged in 2021. The Pelosi stunt has left ASEAN members upset with the reckless adventurism of the US.

Feedback from US media shows that recriminations have been flying against Pelosi inside America; NYT columnist Thomas L. Friedman calls her visit to Taiwan "utterly reckless." CNN says "Questions mount over whether Pelosi's Taiwan trip is worth the consequences." And the Financial Times reported that "US allies rattled by China's aggressive response to Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit." It is clear that the West has been given by China some food for serious thought.

As the reverberations of Pelosi's Taiwan visit settle down, the Philippines needs to do much sober thinking. The US has just shown that it will likely just stand by and watch if and when the PLA blockades Taiwan. 

Of course, the world has already seen how quickly the US abandoned its Afghan allies when the crunch time came. And the reality of US commitment is also evident in Ukraine, as it is prepared to fight the war to the last drop of Ukrainian blood.

It is amusing to note the August 11, 2022 report of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs entitled "Americans Favor Aiding Taiwan with Arms but Not Troops," which clearly shows the cynical utilitarianism of US campaign for "democracy." And of course, in the new book Chaos Under Heaven, author Josh Rogin quotes Trump, "Taiwan is like two feet away from China... We are eight thousand miles away. If they invade, there isn't a fucking thing we can do about it."

The Pelosi-Taiwan stunt heightens this question to Filipinos, "Can the Philippines rely on US security guarantees in its Military Defense Treaty (MDT)." For that matter, can US allies Japan and South Korea rely on the US commitments? And can ASEAN continue to allow the provocative interference of the US in Asia-Pacific affairs? These are timely and realistic questions that all of us in Asia need to ponder, thanks to the Pelosi faux pas. 

The author is the founder of Philippine-BRICS strategic Studies, a Philippine think tank, and writer-columnist of SovereignPH.com and the Philippine News Agency news site, broadcast and online political-economic host and commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn