In reaction to Pelosi’s visit on Wednesday, China had surrounded the 220-mile island on all sides Thursday morning and conducted what it called “military exercises” in the Taiwan Strait and the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan routinely witnesses military aggression, such as Chinese fighters entering its air space, but the Taiwan Defense Ministry said it tracked missile strikes in waters and artillery barrages on its outlying islands.
After spending time with Taiwan’s leaders, including its president Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi departed Wednesday after warning that the world “faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” referring to Taiwan’s democratic-led government versus the Chinese Communist Party that owns its own people and wants to own the island, too.
“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world,” Pelosi also said in a short speech, “remains ironclad.”
How far that “determination” extends to Taiwan, however, remains in doubt. Back in the United States, at the White House, the current plan of the Biden administration was stated by John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council. The United States, he told reporters, does not support “Taiwan independence.”
“Nothing has changed about our ‘One China Policy,'” Kirby said hours before Pelosi landed on the island during her visit to several Asian nations. “We have repeatedly said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side.”
Back in May, however, just three months ago, President Joe Biden answered “Yes” when asked by a reporter if the U.S. would defend Taiwan from a future attack. The president, who was in Japan at the time meeting with its prime minister, cited the "One China Policy" but insisted the nation cannot be "taken by force."
Last year, at a CNN town hall, Biden was asked if the U.S. would defend Taiwan if attacked.
“Yes,” Biden answered. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
Bob Maginnis, a national security analyst at the Family Research Council, tells AFN he supported Pelosi’s visit to China because the U.S. had to follow through with the visit if only to push back against China’s threats, which included shooting down Pelosi’s plane.
“But at the same time,” he says, “we need to understand geopolitically the Chinese are very upset.”
Taiwan became home to a breakaway government under Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, when Communists under murderous tyrant Mao Zedong won a civil war that had broken out after the end of World War II.
The island is now home to approximately 23 million citizens who live 100 miles from mainland China, where the Chinese government maintains the island is part of China and will one day fall under its rule.
Asked how Taiwan should view U.S. support, Maginnis says, sadly, that is unclear.
“It depends upon what our policy is, and based upon what we've heard from the Biden administration,” he says, “that policy is so convoluted I don't know what it is today."