China is MAD.
Imagine if your travel plans gave one of the biggest powers in the world an excuse to show exactly how powerful it could be? That is what U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan seems to have done.
U.S. policy on Taiwan has been questionable lately, with the country’s official position of ambiguity becoming something that looks more like official support. Pelosi has not been ambiguous about her support for the island in the past, but this is the first time that support has gone corporeal.
Ever since Pelosi visited Taiwan last Wednesday, China has been breathing fire with warplanes and ships off the coast of Taiwan, using live-fire military drills to show how it could blockade the island. China also pulled out of climate talks with the U.S. and sanctioned Pelosi and her immediate family, among other responses.
The Biden administration had reportedly tried to convince Pelosi not to take this trip for weeks because of precisely this. But once the word was out that Pelosi was considering it, either decision was going to send impactful messages to both China and Taiwan. If she hadn’t gone, would China have found another excuse to show its might? Would the country think it could intimidate the U.S. into backing down, leaving Taiwan to defend itself? But now that she did go, where will China’s fire end?
Next up on the White House’s please-don’t-do-this list: the U.S. Congress has legislation to name Taiwan a “major non-NATO ally.” The administration is reportedly begging them not to move forward with that one.