The visit to Taiwan of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent an anti-imperialist message to China. However, it harmed Washington’s and Kyiv’s interests in the war in Ukraine. This is because the challenge to China has the potential to diplomatically bring Beijing and Moscow even closer.
“For now, China is evaluating and, yes, it has neutrality. I will be honest: this neutrality is better than China joining Russia.” The statement is from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She drew attention on Wednesday (3) for clashing with the usual combative tone of the leader of Ukraine. It seems to reflect concern about the possible consequences of Pelosi’s support for Taiwan.
American congresswoman Pelosi was on the island of Taiwan this week, between Tuesday (2) and Wednesday. She met with President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.
The visit infuriated the Chinese government, which understood the action as US interference in the country’s internal affairs. Xi Jinping’s government has among its main political objectives to regain control over the island – which has an autonomous democratic government, but is not recognized as independent by most of the international community.
Mainly to give In response to domestic audiences, Beijing held military exercises near Taiwan on an unprecedented scale. At least one missile would have crossed the island and fallen into the sea. The shooting also affected the maritime area of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. At least 100 planes and 10 warships took part in the military maneuvers.
In Russia, Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was classified as an American “provocation” against China, according to a spokeswoman for the chancellery, Maria Zakharova. She said Moscow supports the principle of “one China” and opposes any form of independence from Taiwan. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russians expressed “absolute solidarity” with China in relation to Pelosi’s action.
On February 4, shortly before the start of the Russian invasion to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had announced during the Beijing Winter Olympics an “unlimited partnership” – in which they declared mutual support on Ukraine and Taiwan issues. In a joint declaration, the countries discussed, among other topics, multipolarity and the redistribution of power in the world.
The declaration was interpreted by Western analysts as a kind of non-aggression pact, which would have the potential to lead to a realignment of the world order – which could generate a new type of Cold War.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China declared itself neutral and avoided participating in diplomatic movements engineered by the West to condemn Moscow’s attack on the United Nations.
But while the United States and its allies tried to isolate Russia’s economy through sanctions, the Chinese increased their purchases of Russian energy. One of the main objectives of the West is to reduce Moscow’s income from oil exports in order to weaken the country and reduce its capacity for war.
In May, Chinese imports of Russian oil rose 55% compared to the same period of the previous year, according to the British network BBC. Because of this, Russia displaced Saudi Arabia as the biggest supplier of oil to China. In the same month, exports of Chinese products to Russia grew 14% – the result of substitutions of western imports made by the Kremlin.
In addition to In addition, a new gas pipeline is being built to link the two countries and thus increase Russian exports to the Chinese by 10 billions of cubic meters per year. It should be ready in two or three years.
One of the biggest fears of the Ukrainians was that China would start supplying military equipment to Russia. However, this has not occurred due to American pressure.
Likewise, the United States has been intimidating technology companies to avoid exports to Russia. According to the US Department of Commerce, global semiconductor exports to Russia have dropped 90% since the beginning of the war. They are essential for the Russian arms industry, which relies on chips to make weapons.
On the other hand, it doesn’t seem possible that Washington and its allies have the capacity to try to punish Beijing with economic isolation. Some analysts say that the Chinese economy could supplant the American economy in the next decade.
Thus, the partnership between Russia and China appears to be, for now, a “marriage of convenience”, driven mainly by the common antagonism in relation to the United States.
What the West and Zelensky seem to try to avoid is the deepening of this partnership. That’s why the Ukrainian president lowered his tone and tried to arrange a meeting with Xi Jinping.
“Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was bad for American interests in Ukraine. The United States wants to isolate Russia, but they ended up giving the Chinese a reason to get closer to the Russians,” said retired colonel Paulo Roberto da Silva Gomes Filho, who holds a master’s degree in defense and strategy studies from the National Defense University of the People’s Republic of China.
It is not known for sure if the action by Pelosi, a member of parliament known for her activism in relation to Taiwan, was the result of her individual initiative or if it was an action orchestrated with the Democratic government of Joe Biden. The visit ended up being criticized by members of the Democratic Party and praised by members of the Republican Party.
In addition to the military maneuvers in the Taiwan region, the visit is already causing a deterioration in diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington. On Friday (5), China announced a halt in cooperation between the two countries in the military, combating climate change, immigration and efforts to control global drug trafficking.
The possibility of China invading Taiwan or eventually going to war with the United States is considered remote by analysts. To invade the island, Beijing would have to carry out an amphibious landing operation, considered extremely complex and expensive. Furthermore, a direct attack on citizens who share the same roots with China could be considered fratricide – and thus have a strong negative impact on Xi Jinping’s popularity.
But it is not yet known until At this point, the deterioration of diplomatic relations between Americans and Chinese will have a greater impact on the Ukraine war – or if it will unleash greater Chinese economic support for the Russians.
Latest news from the battlefield
Last week, the War Games column analyzed the possible political consequences of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south of the country. Over the past few days, Ukrainian fighters on the battlefield have told this columnist that they have received information that Russia is sending between 29 and 55 thousand soldiers to try to contain the counterattack in the occupied region of Kherson. Russia confirmed the deployment of reinforcements, but did not provide figures.
The exchange of artillery fire between Russians and Ukrainians in the territory between Mykolaiv and Kherson has been intense. This is today the main battleground of the war. But there have been no reports of significant advances by Ukraine towards Kherson.
In Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainians have been accusing Russia of using the Enerhodar nuclear plant as a shield. Moscow reportedly positioned several artillery pieces between the six nuclear reactors and fired on neighboring regions defended by the Ukrainian army. The Kyiv army cannot fight back lest it cause a nuclear catastrophe.
On the information front, Russia and Ukraine debate who is responsible for an explosion at the Yelenovka POW camp in Donetsk. On 29 July, a detonation killed 55 Ukrainian fighters who were being held at the scene and left dozens of wounded. They were members of the Azov Battalion who had surrendered in the siege of the city of Mariupol.
Russia accused Ukraine of having caused the explosion by accidentally firing a Himars rocket into the prison.
Ukraine said it had evidence that fighters from the Separatist Republic of Donetsk, allied with Russia, detonated a bomb inside the prison to kill the prisoners and thus hide evidence of torture practiced against them. Indications of this were alleged wiretaps that would show officials linked to Russia commenting on the operation and the fact that the windows of neighboring buildings were left intact – which would point to the use of a bomb and not a rocket.
Ukraine says it is investigating the case, but there is currently no independent investigative process.