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Pelosi’s Dishonorable Taiwan Trip

Aug 09, 2022
  • Tao Wenzhao

    Honorary Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Fellow, CASS Institute of American Studies

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on Aug. 2 and 3. Talking about the reason for her Taiwan trip in an article published in The Washington Post on Aug. 3, Pelosi heaped praise on Taiwan’s democracy, bragged unblushingly about the United States and herself as defenders of Taiwan’s democracy and claimed to honor commitments to democracy by visiting. 

Only a shameless politician like her would say something like that now. May I first ask how U.S. democracy is? If her tearing up the script of the former president, Donald Trump, was a show of U.S. democracy, what about the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol last year? Former U.S. National Security Adviser Susan  Rice had talked about “our democracy’s near-death experience.” Pelosi shouldn’t be that forgetful. Her laptop was stolen during the riot but was reportedly retrieved later. Who knows where she hid that day?

The Democratic and Republican parties are still at loggerheads over the 2020 elections. If Pelosi and her likes are truly committed to democracy, they should first make efforts to straighten out the democratic order in the U.S., or at least make it look fine, so they can set an example for others and the rest of the world won’t see them as a laughing stock.

Pelosi had to risen to political stardom in part by taking on China. She was a nameless newcomer among 435 members of the House when she entered Congress in 1987. But she came with a politicians’ instincts and began making great fuss about human rights in China soon afterward. She repeatedly proposed anti-China bills, and mounted pressure on President George H.W. Bush in an attempt to cut off China’s most-favored nation treatment, strengthen sanctions and sabotage normal China-U.S. exchanges, including students for overseas studies.

Her endeavors finally paid off. She made a name quickly and became a ringleader of anti-China forces in the Democratic Party and Congress. Despite her advanced age, she is still trying to build political capital by confronting China because of this year’s U.S. midterm elections, and it remains uncertain whether the Democrats can retain their majority in the House.

The Taiwan question can be analyzed from three angles:

From China’s perspective, Taiwan is a matter of Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and there is no room for concessions. The Taiwan question arose as a result of China’s weakness and chaos in modern history, and will surely be resolved in the process of the Chinese nation’s great rejuvenation. There is only one way out, and that is Taiwan returning to the motherland. Either peacefully or non-peacefully Taiwan will be back. This will be the outcome based on the strong will of 1.4 billion Chinese. National rejuvenation and the ultimate reunification of the motherland enjoy great national consensus in China, and nobody can prevent the Chinese people from achieving those two goals.

From the angle of China-U.S. ties, the relationship is broad and complex and includes various aspects. Yet we have been saying for decades that Taiwan is the most important and most sensitive, core question in China-U.S. relations. And the “one-China” principle is the political foundation of that relationship.

The principle is very clear: There is only one China in the world; Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory; and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China. This was written in three China-U.S. joint communiques, and every U.S. administration has had a clear commitment on the matter. When the two countries were negotiating the Aug. 17, 1982, China-U.S. joint communique, U.S. President Ronald Reagan wrote in a letter to CPC General Secretary Hu Yaobang (dated May 3, 1982): “Our policy will continue to be based on the one-China principle. We will not allow the unofficial relationship between the American people and the Chinese people on Taiwan to weaken our commitment to this principle.”

President Clinton’s subsequent pledge that the U.S. did not support Taiwan independence and did not support either two Chinas or one China and one Taiwan, and didn’t believe Taiwan should join international organizations consisting of sovereign nations.

But there have always been some people in the U.S. who want to obstruct China’s cause of reunification, and they have disseminated words inconsistent with the one-China principle — even playing various tricks in violation of it. Especially since its Indo-Pacific Strategy was proposed, the U.S. has appeared more convinced that Taiwan is a handy card. So there has been increasing collusion between the U.S. and Taiwan. The island’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities strive for independence, relying on the U.S. to back them, and the U.S. wants to contain China through Taiwan. They are taking advantage of each other.

Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan was also a move to contain China and challenge the one-China principle. However, playing the Taiwan card in relations with China is extremely dangerous, because it confronts the will and resolve of 1.4 billion people. U.S. decision-makers should keep their eyes clear on this.

From the angle of the international order, Taiwan’s return to the motherland was written clearly in the Cairo Declaration of Dec. 1, 1943, and reaffirmed in the Potsdam Proclamation of July 26, 1945. Both documents were among the fruits of victory in the anti-fascist war, and solemn commitments were made by allied countries, the foundation of the postwar world order and bedrock of the UN and UN Charter. 

When establishing diplomatic relations with foreign countries, the government of the People’s Republic of China has without exception asked the other side to recognize the one-China principle, which was actually implementing the arrangement made in the aforementioned important international documents. Challenging the one-China principle in fact also challenges the aforementioned important international consensuses, as well as the postwar world order.

U.S. decision-makers have always had on their lips that they must “safeguard the rules-based international order.” In that case, they should faithfully and honestly abide by the stipulations of the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation — and the one-China principle — rather than play any tricks. This is the only way to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and avoid unnecessary conflict between China and the U.S.

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