US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will arrive in Taiwan in the next 24 hours, flanked by a US aircraft carrier, a destroyer, a cruiser and dozens of F-35 aircraft in a deliberate effort to provoke an escalation of the US-China conflict.
Pelosi's arrival in Taiwan is deliberate and calculated provocation against China. The consequences are potentially catastrophic.
Working people in the United States must oppose this deliberate provocation, carried out with the imprimatur of the White House, which threatens to spiral out of control, risking countless lives in Taiwan, China, the Asia/Pacific region and the United States itself.
Figures within the US political establishment have made clear that any Chinese military response would be met with a military response by the United States. Zack Cooper, former National Security Council official, told the Washington Post, “If the Chinese intentionally take action or if there’s some sort of accident that leads to a real clash—ships or aircraft touch each other, or if you get a radar lock on an aircraft or a missile that flies very close over Taiwan—I think that you’d see that the United States feels it has to respond quite forcefully to that.”
“The risks of escalation are immediate and substantial,” warned Evan Medeiros, a former Asia adviser to President Barack Obama, in a statement to the New York Times. “This is an exceptionally dangerous situation, perhaps more so than Ukraine.”
For their part, Chinese officials have said that they see Pelosi’s visit as crossing a “red line.” Famously, U.S. President Joe Biden declared in December 2021, “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” leading to the US-NATO war against Russia over Ukraine.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “If the United States insists on going ahead, China will have to take firm and forceful measures to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
China’s Global Times newspaper, speaking for significant factions within the Chinese state and military, responded to the planned visit by declaring that the response from China would be “military but also strategic.”
In a phone call with Biden last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Biden that “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” the most open threat of military retaliation by a Chinese president in recent history.
The claim that the White House cannot stop Pelosi from traveling to Taiwan is a lie. Pelosi will be traveling on a military aircraft, supported by at least a half-dozen warships, and will likely be escorted by fighter jets. As “commander-in-chief,” it is entirely within Biden’s purview to withhold these military assets.
Instead, the White House has chosen to allow Pelosi’s trip despite the stated reservations of White House officials. The New York Times reported as much this morning, writing, “At its core, some officials said, the administration concluded after the call that the potential domestic and geostrategic risks of trying to halt the visit … were greater than allowing Ms. Pelosi to proceed.”
Pelosi’s trip is the latest and largest of a series of provocations against China. It is accompanied by ridiculous, shameless and bald-faced lies on the part of US officials.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding US policy into some sort of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.
No reason? It should be recalled that the American government, in 1962, responded to the moves by the Soviet Union to station nuclear missiles in Cuba with a blockade that nearly led to a nuclear exchange. How would the US respond today if China was massively arming Cuba—or, perhaps a better analogy, Puerto Rico—as part of a explicit policy of militarily encircling the United States?
The US, moreover, has threatened to invade the Solomon Islands, 12,000 kilometers from the US, over its security pact with China.
Kirby’s statements, which neither he nor anyone else at the White House believe, are aimed purely for domestic consumption, to provide arguments for the broadcast news and for the affluent upper middle class supporters of US imperialism.
Following the Chinese revolution, Taiwan became the seat of the US-backed government in exile. From 1949 to 1987, the country was under the thumb of a brutal US-backed military dictatorship in “the longest imposition of martial law by a regime anywhere in the world.” To this day, the Taiwanese government claims all of mainland China as being under its control.
Pelosi’s visit is the latest in a series of actions by the United States to systematically dismantle the “one-China” policy, first under the Trump administration and continued under Biden, that has governed US relations with China over decades.
The one-China policy was established by the Shanghai Communiqué of 1972. It was further concretized by the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations of 1972, which pledges that the “United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China,” while asserting that the United States will maintain “unofficial relations” with Taiwan.
In defiance of these agreements, the United States has initiated a series of provocations intended to establish formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan:
- In May 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
- The Trump administration invited Taiwanese diplomats to attend functions at the State Department and other federal buildings, a practice continued under the Biden administration.
- In September 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to Taiwan as a country.
- The Biden administration for the first time invited Taiwan’s representative in the United States to attend Biden’s inauguration.
- Biden administration officials have leaked to the US media that US military personnel are in Taiwan training its forces and has since announced the doubling of American forces in Taiwan.
Clearly, the Biden administration wants to provoke some sort of military conflict with China. If it did not, it would not allow the risk of Pelosi’s trip.
The American ruling class sees no other way of maintaining its global hegemony except through confrontation with China. From the standpoint of US military strategists, a war with China is not a matter of if but of when.
Beyond geopolitical considerations, the recklessness of American imperialism is driven by domestic factors. The deeper the economic and social crisis in the US, the more it is inclined to escalate international conflicts to the point of war.
A key consideration for the Biden administration is to retain the support of the fascist-led Republican Party, under conditions where the White House fears a groundswell of working class opposition. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio made clear that he would unequivocally back the Biden administration in its conflict with China, declaring, “We may have deep domestic political differences … but we will respond with unbreakable unity if threatened from abroad.”
The continuous efforts by the United States to escalate its conflicts with Russia and China, day after day, month after month and year after year make clear that the US ruling class is deliberately seeking to fan the flames of war.
Working people all over the world must oppose the reckless military provocation of American capitalism. A war against the masses of China would be at one and the same time a war against the working class of America, whose only beneficiaries would be the American financial oligarchy.
As workers enter into struggle in the United States and all over the world, they must inscribe on their banners the struggle against war.