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.
Because of unprecedented sustained tracking interest in SPAR19, Flightradar24 services are under extremely heavy load. Some users may currently experience issues accessing the site, our teams are working on restoring full functionality to all users as quickly as possible. pic.twitter.com/dsFrlQ67zr
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 2, 2022
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.
NOW – China's People's Liberation Army just posted a new video on WeChat ahead of Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan.pic.twitter.com/QaiFcdGCn1
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) August 1, 2022
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.