The Show Must Go On: Pelosi’s Trip to Taiwan

Aerial View of City Buildings and Taipei 101 during Night Time on September 11, 2021. Photographer: Jimmy Liao via Pexels
Aerial View of City Buildings and Taipei 101 during Night Time on September 11, 2021. Photographer: Jimmy Liao via Pexels

As Russia continues their attempts to steamroll Ukraine, the question of Taiwanese independence remains as crucial as ever. While news outlets are reporting that United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has departed for Asia on Friday, reports note that her stopover in Taiwan, which had originally been scheduled for April, still remains uncertain. There has been an intense pressure campaign from the Biden administration to convince the Speaker not to go, though she seems rightfully unmoved. Administration officials are warning that in a time of increased tensions, the right move would be to not provoke China. Some have even argued that Pelosi should cancel her trip, instead waiting until she becomes a lame duck Speaker. 

In fact, it’s the contrary. As Taiwanese citizens read the international headlines of Ukraine’s valiant effort to fight off a foreign invader, a trip by the second person in the presidential line of succession is exactly what is needed at the moment. She would be the “highest-ranking American lawmaker to visit the close US ally since her predecessor as speaker, Newt Gingrich, traveled there 25 years ago.” Visiting at the height of her political power sends a message to Chinese officials that the United States is clear in their commitment to the Taiwanese people, just as President Biden mentioned when he let a comment slip in May that the US would defend Taiwan in an invasion by China. 

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If the Biden administration, and the US as a whole, is serious about countering China’s influence across the world, such a trip is necessary. New reports seemingly come out daily that China is quickly preparing for an attack on the island, with reports from The New York Times noting that such an attack could come within the next two years. Ukraine should be a lesson to the international community; if the world continues to hold back their diplomatic options, such as sending a high profile delegation to visit the island, they risk waiting too long before China does attack, at which point such visits will be rendered potentially useless as Taiwan comes under heavy military fire.

The visit serves as a distinct lesson for Israel. If the US backs down from visiting Taiwan, it would be a message that the US waivers from their steadfast commitment to their allies. If Pelosi’s trip goes as planned, as I suspect it will, it reaffirms that the US stands by their allies on the international stage, even in the thorniest of issues. 

At some point, the Western world must confront China for their bullying tactics and draw a red line at the threatening of Asia’s most vibrant and thriving democracy. Backing down would convince Beijing that everyone will cower to them when push comes to shove, and only encourage their menacing ways. A visit by one of the most powerful politicians in America, parlayed with a strong military presence as the USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group patrol the South China Sea, sends the perfect message. While there are certainly risks, there is never going to be an opportune time to stand up to China. Rather, it’s now or never.

Note: All views expressed in this op-ed are reflective of the personal opinion of the writer, and do not reflect the views of any organization he is affiliated with. 

About the Author
Brian is receiving his MA in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security at Reichman University in Herzliya. He is serving as an Anna Sobol Levy Foundation Fellow, which brings Americans who are interested in government work to study in Israel. He was born in New York, and received his BA in Political Science at Union College in New York. Having grown up as a Taiwanese-American, he is passionate about military issues that bring together Asia, the United States, and Israel.
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