Why is Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip so controversial?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in 25 years, has sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and the United States.

Beijing has warned the U.S. that it is “playing with fire” if it allows the speaker to visit China, and even Joe Biden has warned against doing so.

So why is Ms Pelosi’s trip so controversial?

Taiwan, an autonomous democracy of about 23 million people along China’s coast, has become a flashpoint in an intensifying geopolitical battle between Washington and Beijing.

Taiwan has its own democratic political system, constitution and army, and many Taiwanese consider the island a country independent of China. But Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will ultimately be under its control – by force if necessary.

At the same time, the United States is an ally of Taiwan and has been ambiguous about how the United States will respond to a military attack by China to seize the island.

China’s rapid economic and military growth over the past few decades has ensured its status as Washington’s number one geopolitical rival. In recent years, U.S. foreign policy has shifted to focus on how to respond to Beijing’s rise. Taiwan is at the center of this competition.

The battle for Taiwan’s status dates back centuries. As early as 229 AD, China made a territorial claim to the island. The island was ruled by the Qing Dynasty from 1683 to 1895, and it was briefly ruled by Japan after the First Sino-Japanese War.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center) is welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu Zhaoxie (left) as she arrives at Taipei’s Songshan Airport


After World War II, China took control of the island again. When the civil war broke out, Mao Zedong’s communist army took control. In 1949, remnants of the former Chinese government and their supporters fled to Taiwan.

This government-in-exile, which is not controlled by Beijing, will eventually develop into a democratic political system with economic ties to China. It has all the hallmarks of an independent state, but its status today is a hotly debated issue.

The U.S. official adheres to the “one China” policy and recognizes the Beijing government as “the only legitimate government of China”. But successive U.S. leaders have maintained informal relations with Taiwan for decades, and in 1979 Taiwan Relations Act The U.S. government is obliged to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons.

America has always insistedstrategic ambiguityon whether it would respond militarily to a Chinese attack on the island. But Mr Biden said the US would Defend Taiwan if Taiwan is attacked.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been more determined than his predecessor in declaring his intention to unify Taiwan with the mainland.Beijing sees Ms Pelosi’s trip as a one-off provocative and intensified military activities around the island as a response.

For both leaders, Taiwan represents a key part of their own philosophy and the way they see the world.

Mr. Xi believes that bringing Taiwan under China’s control is central to his efforts to restore China’s place in the world as a global power. At the same time, Mr. Biden believes that defending democratic institutions against China is part of a larger global struggle against authoritarianism and democracy. Defining his views on foreign policy.

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