The Most Tracked Plane In History Touches Down In Taiwan With Nancy Pelosi On Board

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s military plane has touched down in Taiwan. It’s been the most tracked aircraft movement in history. The Boeing C-40C using call sign SPAR19 took off from Kuala Lumpur and over 300,000 people were tracking the plane in real time at once. So many people were watching it that tracking sites couldn’t handle the server loads.

China has responded already responded with cyber attacks on Taiwan and a suspension of imports of certain food products from Taiwan.

Officially the White House was opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan, and it was removed from her official trip itinerary. However there’s little question that Speaker Pelosi, strong-willed and powerful in her own right, wouldn’t explicitly move against U.S. foreign policy. So the whole thing appears to be something of a charade, blessed by the administration in private while admonished by it in public – a way to antagonize the Chinese and support Taiwan without doing it so aggressively as to provoke a response.

In other words, it’s the very definition of official U.S. ‘strategic ambiguity’ as a policy towards Taiwan, refusing to officially say the extent to which the U.S. would defend Taiwan from Chinese invasion. Many Taiwanese in positions of leadership were fearful of a Joe Biden Presidency, assuming that Biden would take a softer stance on China, although I wrote last year that I expected this would not be the case – since Biden would pursue a more traditional U.S. foreign policy than the previous president.

China has reacted belligerently to Speaker Pelosi’s visit.

However China isn’t going to attack Taiwan immediately. That’s too high risk of a move in advance of the 20th Peoples Congress this fall and President Xi’s re-election to an unprecedented third term, breaking with a two term limit convention set by Deng Xiaoping. If an invasion goes wrong it would put Xi’s entire legacy at risk, whereas later on he could risk a protracted entanglement to accomplish reunification.

Hong Kong’s national security law represented the end of ‘one country, two systems’. Now Taiwan sees an aggressive China within its geographic sphere of influence as heightening risk to its own independence. So they want to bolster their ties to the U.S., especially security ties. And the U.S. foreign policy establishment wants this too – by the way our semiconductor supply currently relies on it – but as with the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, without so antagonizing the adversary as to enter into direct conflict with it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Clearly, a statement is being made to the PRC. And, the statement is being made by Nancy Pelosi.

    Gary, it will be (not) interesting to see the critical comments from the usual suspects. This is an act that they should support. But, will their dogma allow them to give credit to Nancy Pelosi? Probably not.

    Now, can we get back to masks and border control policy?

  2. Since all business including government business involves air travel, what specifically does this topic have to do with aviation instead of being not just another political piece?

  3. Typical grandstanding democrat. She should worry about our domestic issues, think border security, the deficit, inflation, homelessness. She is the epitome of a worthless politician. Maybe she should stay there and live so she can mess up their country.

  4. Not a Nancy Pelosi fan, but good on her for going.

    FWIW, an invasion of Taiwan is waaay more difficult to pull off than the common press reports portray. For instance, it would need to be BIGGER than the Normandy Invasion. Across a longer distance. In an area where the PLA currently has neither air or naval supremacy.

    The only way China can pull it off with a high degree of confidence is to intimidate everyone else from interfering. And time is not on their side.

  5. Damn…. I thought China said they would shoot down her plane! Hopefully on the return trip… fingers crossed.

  6. Red China and Communist Russia need to get off their high horse…and let people live! Both need to be brought down to size.

  7. @Amazing_Larry. Thanks for chiming in on the pro-Chinese side.

    Are you also pro-Russia, Belarus, and Hungary as well?

    Those of us who are Americans are pro-democracy.

  8. @Zebraitis Shouldn’t you be over in Ukraine fighting the Russians?
    Crickets are chirping.

  9. @Flying.While.High.Again

    No, i could defer to age, but knoe that my my money is funding the Ukrainians.

    My family lost our home and homeland to fascism and communism. That is why I am first gen American and know the value democracy and the Constitution.

    U.S. State department has issued a statement that Americans should not travel to Ukraine, or join as independent fighters.

    So, yeah, damn right I support that action. Fund that action, and voted for the guy that STENGTHENED NATO and America’s position in the world, rather than cowering and complaining.

    I look forward to the day when all Americans can stand tall and be united against non-democratic nations.

  10. While I disagree with Pelosi most of the time, she has been a consistent voice for freedom in East Asia, and I fully respect her for that and for standing up to the bullies in Beijing.

  11. @Reno Joe,

    Practically on queue they proved you right. So funny they don’t even see it.

  12. Tony, they don’t. They are of the mob that the Founding Fathers feared. It’s not about America or democracy, it’s about the Party . . . of which Washington warned in his Farewell Address. Instead of hoping that PRC aggression is checked, they don’t want someone from the other side of the aisle to receive credit for a victory.

    History has revealed that during the Third Crusade, the King of France had given the Muslims intelligence on Richard the Lion-Heart’s forces, which ultimately led to his withdrawal from the wars. The King of France had instructed his commander that it is better that the Christians suffer defeat than the English receive credit for a victory. (The Historie of the Holy Warre, Thomas Fuller, 1639)

  13. Given the conflict between the French and English throughout history, the religious conflicts between Protestant England and Catholic France, plus the French plots against Richard for the English throne, I’m not sure how much stock I’d put in a history written in 1639. But your basic point about not giving your enemies credit is taken.

  14. @Koggerj you don’t have to be a fan of Nancy Pelosi, you can even hate her.

    But jeez you are a disgusting piece of shit, aren’t you.

  15. C_M, Philip II’s betrayal in the Third Crusade was part of his plot with then-Prince John (Richard’s brother) over English lands and the throne. So, it is consistent.

    As a side note, the classic Robin Hood story is slightly off. In Richard’s absence, John was not Regent — Richard didn’t trust John, so he appointed a cardinal as Regent. The tyrant portrayed in the Robin Hood story was in fact the cardinal and not John. John was guilty of conspiring with Philip, yes. This is not to say that John was not a tyrant after he lawfully ascended the throne — he was — and, thus we have the Magna Carta . . . because the barons didn’t trust him either. Ha.

  16. Nothing heroic about this. The speaker went against her own parties president in visiting Taiwan. Had a Republican done this all hell would have broken loose. But because NP is the darling of the main stream media not a word of protest heard. I wonder what would have happened had the Chinese intervened seeing as it was not sanctioned by the White House. Once again we see just how weak our POTUS is when he can’t even control the actions of members of his own party

  17. I’ve been to Taiwan. More Americans should go. Hong Kong used to be a favorite place, but the Chinese Communist Party is ruining it. All efforts to support democracy (at home and abroad) should be encouraged. Except for the 2nd Amendment, too many Americans who like to consider themselves patriots care not about the fundamental principles on which this country was founded. The sanctity of elections must not be infringed by sore losers.

  18. @Reno – That was sort of my point – it’s more about context. Phillip really wasn’t worried about Richard being English, he was more worried about him being a political rival. He was perfectly willing to work with the equally English John. And the author was more than willing to show that the French couldn’t be trusted – especially given that the fuse of the English Civil War had already been lit. History can be written to serve contemporary ends – we need look more further than the 1619 Project to see that.

    @CMorgan – Understand that this is all theater between Pelosi and Biden. She’s not defying him, but it gives him plausible deniability to say he advised her not to go. Diplomacy is a funny game.

  19. @Tony @RenoJoe

    Yup you guys got it right. These bozos will criticize anything that the Dems do while praising the asinine administration of the former guy. Whose actions lead to Russia attacking Ukraine. But hey, what do we know? God help us if the PRC attacks Taiwan, it will not be pretty. But these right wingers will complain then that they can’t buy an iPhone….

  20. @Zebraitis

    Democracy is overrated. Just look at how badly the US has turned out.

    And yes I do support Hungary and orban. They also are dealing with the lgbt menace

  21. @JohnB

    People like your are we the West is dying. Maybe it deserves to die given the culture the west that allows men to pretend to be women.

    China, Russia and the rest of the world don’t tolerate this lunacy.

  22. @Koggerj – there will always be about 10% of any population that tend to act like frightened children clinging to the coattails of facists… they need someone with big fists, because for them the world is a scary place.

    Thanks for self-identifying. You are free to emigrate. Btw, Hungarian is a bitch of a language, and they won’t accept you as one of their own anyway… but better you do that, then waste your time fretting over our democratic constitutional republic.

    Funny how it’s the Dems now that are saying: America – love it or leave it!

  23. @Zebraitis

    Whatever you say snowflake.
    My side continues to grow Daily. People are getting sick of demons like you.

  24. @Tim Dunn. Well he got you to click on it and comment. But seriously son. Don’t read the story if it offends your senses.

  25. @koggerj disses democracy while being free to rant against it because democracy. Then again he supports child abuser’s

  26. Koggerj has expressed his views. It is unlikely that his views will change with any amount of discussion. Others have expressed different views. It is unlikely that their views will change with any amount of discussion. And, certainly, nothing about the world will change as the result of this or any other discussion on a travel blog. So, how about we get back to travel, points, and deals?

  27. David,
    the comment section has turned out exactly as expected.
    Absolutely nothing to do with aviation and everything to do with clickbait to get the fringe from both extremes out pounding the keyboard.
    There is no thought leadership …just following the cash. Not any different than Pelosi.

  28. @koggerj – nice mixed metaphors!

    So, according to you, i’m a snowflake demon. That’s awesome, as I love snowboarding!

    As to “my side”, I’m a proud American. And I’m totally OK with that.

  29. @Zebraitis — no good person should be proud to be an American.

    America is unique among well-to-do countries in not having single-payer healthcare; underinvesting in modern transportation infrastructure, allowing unsafe gas guzzlers to roam around the country; having more guns than people; having corrupt police departments that kill innocent unarmed Blacks; imposing ‘affirmative action’ to thin the ranks of Asians in high society; having a movie industry fueled by white supremacy and a capstone annual awards show where the Best Actor winner committed assault on live family television; having a President from 2016-2020 who would throw his food against the wall, act with sexual impropriety even as regards his own daughter, make an unprecedented number of willfully false claims culminating in the abject lie that the current President was illegitimately elected; having public schools where single digits (sometimes literally 0%) of students are proficient in basic arithmetic; having homeless people live mere city blocks away from billionaires; having dilapidated airports that are a century or more behind Dubai, Singapore, Seoul; …

    I need to go to bed. No good person is proud to be an American.

  30. @Olaf – Yep. Not saying we don’t have our challenges today. There are many.

    But it still is a great country of opportunity.

    My parents, immigrated as war refugees in their youth (green cards), literally came here with nothing. My childhood had periods of near poverty, but today my sister is an HR VP, my brother is the CEO of his own advertising company, and I am just a lowly multimillionaire (the slacker of the family, apparently).

    Our biggest challenge is the mythology that the GOP created in the 1970’s that continued long beyond when facts proved them wrong. Trump was the last gasping struggle of that group, and the machinations to try to defend his actions that resulted in the Jan 6th insurrection are destroying that party and mindset. (Although the holdouts are axtremely vocal and insistent on their misinformation)

    The big difference is that most Americans is are an optimistic forward looking bunch. Today, most who identify themselves as conservatives tend to be fearful and self centered (much like Gollum with the ring).

    As a former Detroiter, the airport there was once voted the third worst in the world, but DTW is great now.

    We are on the brink of passing a climate bill that will ensure that companies that make over 1 billion in profits per year are taxed at least 15% to cover the cost. (Hopefully not too little too late)

    Yes, Healthcare is a mess. And yes, the education system is also a mess for many (as funding is based on local property taxes). Getting a population of 300 million to agree is tough.

    And the whole constitutional republic thing is a challenge as well: when two senators from Wyoming (representing 580K people) have the save voice as two senators from California (representing 39.35 million people) you can’t say that we are a democracy.

    But having lived in England, Hungary, and Brazil and traveled extensively, it is still really great when that jet brings me back here.

    So, to quote the sage Dude: “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

    Have a great day!

  31. @ Zebraitis

    LOL! You are funny af! What does the demokkkrat party have to do with democracy?????

    I’ll help you out – NOTHING! They are evil, fascist traitors. And hoping that an evil, fascist traitor deservedly bites the big one is about as pro-America, pro-freedom, and pro-democracy as one can get. You might even say that I’m channeling one or more of our founding fathers as I wrote that.

    Now, get stuffed, loser.

  32. Keep in mind that Russia, as well as the PRC, both employ troll farms with the goal of denigrating western society, espousing dictatorships, and sowing division among the populace. Now, re-read these comments and take a wild guess which authors likely collect a foreign paycheck.

  33. @ loser Larry

    Buddy, thanks for being a perfect example of what I described.

    You are like one of those poodles that barks viciously at a window, but is never let outside.

    America will move past you.

  34. @Zebraitis

    I AM America. Get used to it, loser. Now go pack your shit move your sorry ass to Cuba or Iran…. you’ll obviously be much happier.

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