A new axle?


There are no easy choices for the US in this situation.

If Pelosi had canceled the visit, she would have rejected the wishes of the Taiwanese leaders. A visit, said my Taiwan-based colleague Amy Qin, “increases Taiwan’s legitimacy on the international stage.”

As Edward Wong, a Times correspondent who reports on diplomacy from Washington, said: “Proponents of the trip claim that it is the US that is sending Beijing a message that Taiwan is important enough to us that we engage at a higher level. ” He described the trip as a version of “diplomatic deterrence,” trying to remind China of the potential consequences if it invaded Taiwan.

A cancellation, on the other hand, would have risked China being able to dictate US relations with Taiwan. It would have the potential to repeat the mistakes the US has made with Putin over the past 20 years when it repeatedly tried to appease him.

Putin invaded Georgia, annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, assassinated Russian dissidents and intervened in the 2016 US presidential election. Each time, the US avoided a major confrontation, in part for fear it could provoke a bigger war. Putin, who viewed the US and Western Europe as weak, responded last year with a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

If China thinks that the US will not eventually come to Taiwan’s defense, the chances of an invasion may increase.

But the risks of a confrontational approach are also real. For example, Pelosi’s visit could lead Chinese planes to Taiwan in new ways. “If they invade Taiwan’s territorial airspace, an incident could happen whether Xi wants one or not,” Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia program at the US’s German Marshall Fund, told The Times.

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