Nancy Pelosi’s visit primarily benefits Beijing, which is strengthening its response to an ever-more ambiguous American strategy in the region.
Nancy Pelosi had the right to come to Taiwan. But was she right to do so? And who benefits from her visit? Elected 18 times to the House of Representatives, and running again in November, she is proving that she is indeed the “most powerful woman in Washington.” Her trip to Taipei, despite Chinese threats and the reluctance of the White House, has earned her broad support in the United States, even among her fiercest opponents. The threat from China is one of the few issues that unites Democrats and Republicans.
In challenging Beijing, Pelosi has polished her persona but has further blurred an American strategy on Taiwan that is becoming less and less clear. On three occasions in recent months, Joe Biden seemed to ignore the famous “strategic ambiguity” followed up to now by the United States, assuring Taiwan of its military support in case of Chinese aggression, before being more or less contradicted by his advisers.
Today, White House spokespeople are going through similar twists to minimize the significance of Pelosi’s visit to Taipei; there is no reason to make a crisis out of it, they say in Washington, “nothing has changed.” In other words, the United States still does not recognize Taiwan’s independence, even though its support for the Taiwanese authorities is growing.
As a result, while the United States is adding ambiguity to “strategic ambiguity,” Beijing is using the opportunity to justify trade sanctions against the island and new military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. Pelosi has offered Xi Jinping a perfect opportunity to denounce American provocations, reinforce his army and brandish the Taiwanese rattle in front of his countrymen — a useful nationalist diversion in the middle of an economic crisis and a few months before the Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
Malika Nedir has been chief of the World section since 2019. She previously worked at RTS as a reporter, international journalist, Paris correspondent and newscast presenter. She was awarded the Jean Dumur Prize in 2004.