US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen despite warnings from China. She is the first high-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. On her tour of Asia, Pelosi planned to make announced visits to Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Her visit to Taiwan was unannounced but a wide spectrum of audiences expected the speaker to make a stop there. China strongly opposed the idea of Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit when it was first floated a few weeks ago. Beijing had always considered independently-run Taiwan its breakaway state after losing the Island in a civil war during the 1940s. Taiwan has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and military. However, Beijing aims to take back the Island under the “One China” principle.
Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Visit Sparks Fear of World War III
It was widely anticipated that Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit amid soaring tensions between the US and China was bound to create some trouble. As soon as she landed, the international media went crazy, running polls about a potential war, discussing preparations, planning an escape, and feeding off the public’s anxiety. Whereas on the ground, hundreds gathered to either support or ridicule Pelosi’s visit. Taiwan independence supporters held signs outside the airport welcoming her with signs like “Love You Pelosi” and “F*CK You China”. The biggest crowd was outside the Grand Hyatt hotel, where Pelosi was going to stay. Those protestors also included some who were not thrilled to see a US official in Taiwan. They jeered Pelosi with chants like “warmonger” and “Yankee, go home”.
The protests were largely peaceful but China mobilizing its military units sparked fears for World War III. The fears were fueled by the past interferences of the US in other countries, especially the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which killed about 4000 civilians. However, despite giving serious threats, China has shown restraint in taking hostile action toward Pelosi or the United States over this visit. Commentators opined that violence was never in the cards because only an idiot would start a war over a diplomatic or business visit.
Most Tracked Flight
The mystique surrounding Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit piqued the interest of many. They logged on to the flightradar24 website to monitor the SPAR19 plane supposed to carry the US speaker. According to reports, more than 300,000 users were tracking the plane’s movement, overwhelming the website. The company had to set up a “waiting room” for the influx of interested users to stop the site from crashing. It became the most tracked flight in the history of this website.
Chinese Warplanes in the Air
Beijing announced a series of “targetted military operations” in response to the Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit. It said the move was to “counter” this visit and defend its “national sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Before Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan, Chinese warplanes kept buzzing around the median line dividing Taiwan Strait and China. Taiwanese forces reported that Chinese fighter planes flew close to the median line and briefly “touched” it before circling back to their side. Given the tensions between China and Taiwan, neither side can cross the median line unnecessarily. As a precaution, Taiwan deployed anti-aircraft defence systems to deal with any incoming threat.
In response to Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit, China announced to hold a 4-day military operation around the Island. This includes air and naval drills, long-range artillery shooting, and conventional missile testing in the waters around Taiwan. China warned foreign ships and aircraft to stay away while these drills were going on. Taiwan said that the waters around the Island were busy trade routes which China was attempting to sabotage in breach of international law.
China has also suspended trade with its neighbour as an act of revenge for Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit. Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea were already detrimental to the global economy, and now they could impact Taiwan’s semiconductor chip market. The Island is the biggest supplier of the vital part required to manufacture smartphones, electronics, cars, and appliances. China suspended the export of natural sand to Taiwan, which is a major component for producing semiconductor chips. It also suspended the import of fruits and fish from Taiwan. As a result of these trade restrictions, all hell broke loose in the Taiwanese parliament.