China and some voices in the West are condemning Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as reckless and provocative. As Beijing considers its response, what is striking is that the conversation is almost all about what America should or shouldn’t do. It is as if Chinese intransigence is normalized and even accepted as a permanent and unchanging feature in the region.
This way of thinking is not by happen chance but developed and encouraged by Beijing. It is part of the Communist Party’s efforts to influence the way we think about China and the region such that we become self-critical and timid, even when harassed and threatened. This has allowed Beijing to pocket enormous strategic gains at our collective expense.
Regarding the Pelosi visit, I would have preferred that she added her considerable voice as Speaker of the House to also support Taiwan’s inclusion in Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, fast-track a meaningful comprehensive free trade agreement, or sell Taiwan more of the weapons it needs to defend itself. All these measures would have similarly infuriated Beijing but strengthened Taiwan’s ability to remain a vibrant democracy in practical and not just symbolic ways.