July 22, 2022
For a start, it is nearly impossible to underestimate the degree to which Xi Jinping and the powerful Communist Party Standing Committee view Taiwan through the prism of destiny. Securing Taiwan’s return to the nominal motherland would, to the party elites, physically formalize their destiny of global hegemony.
The Taiwan issue cuts to the very credibility of Xi’s rule, and he knows it. Most U.S. intelligence and military analysts believe China is likely to conduct a military operation to subjugate Taiwan forcibly by 2030. Contrary to widespread assumptions of U.S. military superiority, any U.S. effort to support Taiwan’s defense might well lead to a U.S. military defeat — especially given the misplaced priorities of pork-minded members of Congress.
The symbolism of a U.S. military aircraft carrying the second-in-line to the U.S. presidency to Taiwan would be a very big deal for Beijing. It would stoke China’s rapidly growing paranoia in a manner that Pelosi’s use of a commercial airliner would not.
Indeed, the use of a military aircraft will likely encourage Xi Jinping to believe he was cornered and had to react in a major way. Anything else would signal a weakness that is anathema both to the Communist Party’s international identity and the presentation it seeks to make to the international community.
While China would be unlikely to shoot down Pelosi’s aircraft, a People’s Liberation Army intercept is absolutely possible. The very threat of this possibility would make it necessary for Pelosi’s aircraft to receive either a U.S. or a Taiwanese fighter escort. That would only increase Xi’s sense of needing to make a public show of confronting the visit. The risks of escalation and miscalculation would be high.
The key, then, is for Pelosi to conduct her trip in a manner that mitigates the risk of publicly forcing China into a corner. There are many passenger flights in and out of Taipei every day. Pelosi should simply take one of them.
New Stories Researched and Posted by Our Team of Volunteer Citizen Journalists.