Opinion | China refused to take Pelosi's bait---an old woman's provocations not worth an earth-ending war
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
We were all wrong. I was wrong. What an anti-climax! What a relief! We all expected China to exercise its nuclear option and intercept Nancy Pelosi's plane or worse, to give her a reception she would never forget. But it did nothing of the sort. We have underestimated China's wisdom and capacity for restraint. China's pre-visit hot rhetoric was Plan A. This old woman hates to lose, consequences be damned. She was fixated on basking in the glory of her "heroic" defiance of China's blunt warnings. Character is destiny. If Pelosi had chickened out, it wouldn't be Pelosi, even if it meant skating close to calamity. But China, sagely, refused to play her game.
Happily, few in the West see China's nut-tightening impulse control as a sign of weakness. Most condemn Pelosi for her pointless provocation as petty and childish.
With one single act, Pelosi has destroyed China's trust in the US commitment to its One-China policy. She left behind a shambles in Taiwan that is difficult to recover from. For the first time, China has begun what is essentially a temporary military blockade of the island, in sync with its crippling economic blockade. Taiwan enjoys a 170 billion-dollar trade advantage over the mainland, its largest trading partner, last year. Pelosi's folly has evaporated its fortune. Already, hundreds of Taiwanese companies have been banned from cross-strait trading.
Even Donald Trump, another American crackpot, has called Pelosi crazy for her theatrics. Imagine being called crazy by Trump---that is the ultimate insult to be visited on anybody.
After grandstanding in Taiwan, Pelosi left many Taiwanese fuming and reeling from a betrayal by a shortsighted and self-indulgent US political player.
China's Plan B beckons. Now the real pain for Tsai Ing-wen begins.
Humanity came within a hair's breadth of calamity. I am thankful that China has ice in its veins in handling this in-your-face provocation. In refusing to take Pelosi's bait, Chinese leaders, as always, take the long view. They have no use for the melodramatic. Why play games with an aged arsonist?
Pelosi's ploy has given China a new strategic advantage. China will have the last laugh. Its first priority is to protect its hard-won economic achievements. The world should be grateful for its even-keeled leaders. Instead of dealing Pelosi a death-blow, it adopts the "salami-slicing" approach, a death by a thousand cuts to Taiwan separatists. The mainland military is conducting war games all around the island, and the US can only watch. By resisting the urge for instant gratification and the applause of its people, China can now stage-manage its next move. In the words of a UK pundit, China has many "tools in its tool box".
China is watching the war in Ukraine and learning lessons. It has no appetite for a war of attrition with a warmongering super-power. It will pick and choose an engagement in its own sweet time, with a new range of strategic options at its disposal, including the unchallenged crossing of the median line in the Taiwan Strait. China's reunification time-table has just been brought forward.
Pelosi gleefully predicts that her visit will encourage other foreign visitors to follow her footsteps. Quite the opposite. The fuss surrounding Pelosi is a dress rehearsal for how China will handle future foreign visits. Taiwan will be begging foreign politicians to stay home. The British Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs has announced its intention to visit Taiwan later this year. This is an entirely different kettle of fish from the Pelosi visit. This time, China will let Britain taste its full fury, knowing that this second-rate power can be easily outgunned. There is also a low-percentage of a global conflict if China punishes the nosy British. The UK is not even a Pacific country, and has no business getting entangled here. Besides, Britain is in the thick of hyper-inflation and Brexit-induced recession. It can ill afford a protracted, expensive war with China, with its lone aircraft carrier loitering in the Pacific. How do you win a war eight thousand miles from home? Remember, this is not the Falklands, and China is not Argentina. Crossing its red line will redefine Britain's destiny.
China wants no war. But will fight it tooth-and-nail if one is brought to its doorstep, especially against a faded power.
The world is in a mess. China has to endure repeated unprovoked external encroachments. With the earth overheating, a global recession looming, and the pandemic still raging, countries should unite to stave off common disaster. Instead, cheap Western politicians are stoking embers to tip humanity into the fire.
In the past, Western imperialism came on gun boats. These days, it comes in the disguise of a fight over values. In what way has China's "live-and-let-live" philosophy impinged on the core interests of Western countries? The world has never seen a progressive communist country that embraces capitalism and Confucianism simultaneously. It seeks no global domination, but this doesn't stop Western politicians from fingering it as an aggressor. What they see is their own ideological bias and misplaced sense of moral superiority. They never see the real China itself.
Where America pivots, death, destruction and chaos run riot. Sadly, its allies are following the hyena like a herd. Our existential threat lies in its hypocritical "holier-than-thou" attitude. In the Pelosi saga, we have come to appreciate China's ice-cold rationality and sense of strategic patience. That qualifies it as a responsible superpower. Except, China doesn't want it.
The aftermath of the Pelosi visit is still unfolding. History will dismiss it as a failed provocation, and America's utter contempt for humanity. America leading the world? I shudder.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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