U.S. Capitol Hill on December 18, 2019 (XINHUA)
It seems U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is attempting to avoid becoming America's most unpopular politician by earning herself that title in China. In the wake of the scandal over her husband's insider trading, Pelosi is reportedly planning to make an official visit to Taiwan. If she makes the trip, it will be one of the worst provocations against China on the Taiwan question since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States in 1979.
Three months ago, Sino-U.S. relations narrowly avoided the same challenge. Pelosi named the Chinese island of Taiwan as a destination for her visit to Asia in April. Hours later, however, she tested positive for COVID-19 and postponed the trip.
This time, it seems she has a fresh motive. Paul Pelosi, the husband of the country's most powerful woman, was exposed by the U.S. media for having used information allegedly provided by Mrs. Pelosi to earn millions of dollars by stock trading.
Nancy Pelosi's office responded that she herself does not own stocks and is unaware of the relevant transactions. Such rhetoric can no longer quell the anger of the American people, who are suffering from severe inflation. Against the backdrop of the continued decline in President Joe Biden's approval rating, the Democratic Party is likely to lose the mid-term elections in November and the scandal adds to that possibility. Coincidentally, on
July 20, the day after the scandal broke, Pelosi again proposed a visit to Taiwan, which is widely believed to be a way of diverting the attention of the American people to China.
For Pelosi herself, the tactics seem to be working. World public opinion is focusing on China and what measures the Chinese military will take in response to the proposed visit. Her husband's multimillion dollar stock scandal would have become trivial in the face of a potential armed conflict.
It is impossible for Pelosi and her team not to know the consequences involved. Perhaps she thinks that, if she insists on visiting, the Democratic Party can demonstrate a tough stance toward China, and thereby earn political capital for herself.
In reality, the outcomes are largely wishful thinking on Pelosi's part. The Taiwan question concerns China's core interests and is the most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations. The United States has frequently played the "Taiwan card" and engaged in strategic blackmail against China in recent years, which only undermines the mutual trust between the two countries.
While speaking with Biden on the phone on July 28, President Xi Jinping said China firmly opposes secession aimed at "Taiwan independence" and external interference, and never allows any room for "Taiwan independence" forces in whatever form. He called on the United States to honor the one-China principle and implement the three China-U.S. joint communiqués both in word and in deed.
China does not want to see its relations with the U.S. deteriorating, but the premise for avoiding the worst-case scenario is that the United States stops its provocations. Washington must not underestimate China's determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.