Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Tuesday visit to Taiwan brings with it the risk of war between the United States and China should Beijing harm the lead House Democrat, experts said.
Experts speaking to British outlet The Sun likened Pelosi’s Taiwan visit to Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s 1914 visit to Sarajevo, which ended with his assassination kickstarting WWI.
Following touchdown, Pelosi — the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Taiwan in 25 years — was greeted by the island country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu.
Pelosi’s visit came amid threats and opprobrium from the Chinese Communist Party, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province of China.
Opposition from Beijing came in the form of China deeming Pelosi’s visit “provocative” to one state media propagandist threatening Saturday to shoot down Pelosi’s plane as it approached Taiwanese territory.
“The U.S. side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Tuesday evening news briefing following Pelosi’s arrival, according to Channel News Asia.
Pelosi’s visit was “very much dangerous, very much provocative,” said China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Hun, according to Yahoo News.
“Our fighter jets should deploy all obstructive tactics. If those are still ineffective, I think it is okay too to shoot down Pelosi’s plane,” former editor-in-Chief and CCP secretary for Global Times Hu Xijin said, according to Reuters, in a now-deleted Tweet.
In response to Pelosi’s arrival, China pledged to conduct “targeted military operations” and hold drills near Taiwan, Reuters reported.
Pelosi’s “harm or death would trigger a massive international incident the likes of which has not been seen since 1914,” geopolitical expert Brandon Weichert told The Sun.
“Xi Jinping and Nancy Pelosi hold the world’s fate in their hands. And no one knows what happens next… much like 1914,” Weichert said. “Not since the world wars have the personalities of individual world leaders mattered so much to the historic decisions about to be made.”
According to Weichert, should China decide to attack, it could also attack American allies in East Asia, The Sun reported. “Gone are the days when Beijing could only cower and kowtow to the presence of the U.S. warships in the Taiwan Strait,” the expert said.
“China has mobilized a large force — and deployed their own carriers — to counter the American presence in the region.”
“Experts have warned that American air defenses and bases are vulnerable because of the naivety of politicians in Washington, D.C.,” the Sun’s report said.
“The fact it has been 25 years since a U.S. Speaker of the House has gone to Taiwan is an indictment of how badly that Washington has ignored the Indo-Pacific region,” Weichert said.
“Since 9/11, the U.S. has been painfully distracted so much so that China has assumed that it is the real dominant power in the region.”
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