What can we learn from Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

China’s short-term response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan may not have reached a conclusion yet, but the contours are clear : significant increases in “warrior wolf diplomacy” rhetoric; major military exercises in and around Taiwan’s territorial waters; and suspension or cancellation of various Chinese-American diplomatic dialogue channels. More things are to come, but what Beijing has done so far is not unexpected or a game-changer.

What could be a game-changer is if the tantrum of China will wake up American leaders in business and politics to the realities that have been slowly accumulating since even before Xi Jinping took power. Over the past decade, Xi and others have clearly abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s underhanded and modest approach to “hide his strengths, buy time.” Xi expressly said that “A military might is built to fight. Our armed forces must consider combat readiness the goal of all their work and focus on victory when called upon.”

The initial reactions of American businessmen China’s waving of its fist is disconcerting, as is the news that “American companies with Taiwan-based operations are panicking under the impact of possible Chinese military aggression.” What have these firms been doing in the last ten years? (Or is it the reporters who are panicking?) Furthermore, the risks to US investment and US dependence on the mainland Chinese supply chain are far more important. If the situation for Taiwan is worrying, consider the much greater US economic vulnerability in China itself. Shareholders and corporate governance should revisit the term “political risk”.

The White House also reacted badly, canceling an MBIC test for fear of provoking China. Then, echoing Beijing’s alarmist rhetoric, the government said the following about the suspension of climate change talks: “China is not just punishing the United States… they are actually punishing the entire world.” Such irresolute and obsequious behavior fuels China’s belligerence and worries countries on its Indo-Pacific periphery.

Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan created no problems, but it exposed what has long been or should have been obvious in China’s growing threat. Ironically, Beijing has unwittingly given Washington an opportunity to initiate or accelerate a movement of much-needed policies that have been ignored during this administration and previous ones.

First and foremost. , political risk factors in business and economic affairs have not “come back”; they never left, although too many American companies snubbed them. Now, however, it is time to reconsider China’s potential and existing capital expenditures and reliance on its supply chain, and look for alternatives. Among the possibilities is the reallocation of assets to the United States and the Western Hemisphere, not only to reduce political risk, but to improve security for intellectual property, increase supply chain resilience and lower transportation costs. “Industrial policy” or government subsidies are not needed here, only common business sense.

It is crucial to face China’s economic war against the United States and the West. The decades of schemes to steal our intellectual property, force technology transfers and the use of Chinese “companies” — Huawei and ZTE — as weapons of the Chinese state must be stopped. Trade policies designed to counter Beijing’s abuses would garner broad support not only among OECD industrial democracies but also among developing countries threatened by China’s hegemonic “debt diplomacy” with its New Silk Road. Such an initiative would have an important unifying global impact against China, a unity made impossible in recent years by the mutually destructive trade disputes between Beijing’s adversaries.

Secondly , both government and business should pay more attention to countering China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan politically and economically. Doing so in no way minimizes the need to improve Taipei’s self-defense capabilities, but rather prioritizes incorporating Taiwan’s security into the broader system of alliances and partnerships. It also requires Washington to think in larger strategic terms, at Indo-Pacific or even global levels, about the threat from China.

This threat is currently focused on Taiwan, but the next levels above that—Beijing’s aspirations for hegemony along its Indo-Pacific periphery, and then in the world—are closely related. Taiwan is not the only country close to China. Ask South Korea and Japan, Vietnam and Singapore, and India, who already understand the bigger picture in depth. Europe, except the United Kingdom, is already behind schedule, but even the European Union can be encouraged to catch up.

After World War II, countries of the North Atlantic forged deep and far-reaching political and economic ties, including NATO, the most successful political-military alliance in history. Only the most rudimentary foundations for such structures now exist in the Indo-Pacific, but some progress has already been made. The tragic loss of Shinzo Abe in Japan should not diminish his strategic vision and achievements. It was he who first conceived the idea of ​​the “Indo-Pacific” and the Asian Quadrangle (Japan, India, Australia and the USA), which has now begun to take shape.

AUKUS [Austrália, Reino Unido e EUA] is another such foundation, and there is an urgent need for more creative thinking of this kind. The most definitive Indo-Pacific partnership structures do not need to duplicate NATO for the foreseeable future, and probably would not. However, there is enormous scope for greater cooperation against China’s dangerous ambitions.

Third, what is the focus of immediate attention is the defense of Taiwan. China’s post-Pelosi military exercises could give a harbinger of a direct invasion or a naval blockade — the latter is actually more likely, as Beijing wants Taiwan without the devastation Russia is wreaking in Ukraine. Accordingly, China could try to manufacture an artificial crisis at an opportune time for it, including an announcement of a blockade, to see who will side with Taiwan.

If the US and others fail to act, Chinese hegemony and even annexation of Taiwan will follow soon after. Avoiding physical intrusion, blocking, or a threat to Quemoy and Matsu [ilhas que foram núcleos históricos de resistência do Kuomintang a comunistas do continente] requires something to be done now. Action is expected to include anchoring US naval ships at home and positioning strategic US military forces in Taiwan. The deployment of troops will be necessary anyway to train and assist Taiwanese troops in dealing with the new weapons systems and for healthy joint military exercises. We must not repeat the mistakes made in the Ukraine crisis that failed to prevent Russia’s invasion.

China’s reaction to Pelosi’s visit is a “valuable lesson ”. Beijing has removed its mask, and we have seen its true intentions. We cannot miss the opportunity that has presented itself. Another one may not appear.

John R. Bolton served as national security adviser to President Donald Trump and as US ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He is the author of The Room Where It Happened [A Sala em que Tudo Aconteceu (trad. livre)].

© National Review. Published with permission. Original in English.

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