Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a watershed event, and not just because it provoked an angry military response from Beijing that threatens to renew fears of a shooting war breaking out over that embattled island democracy. It also marked a point of no return for America’s 42-year-old policy of refusing to recognize our Taiwanese allies as an independent nation.
In deciding how to handle US–Taiwan and US–China relations going forward, we have to confront head-on the many major failures of American China policy since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. As China launches missiles into the Taiwan Strait and our relations with Beijing sour, it’s clear that a new era is upon us — and understanding how we got here is the key to knowing how we should proceed.
First, we have to confront the failure of four decades of appeasement of the Communist regime in Beijing. That policy of appeasement was undertaken in the hope that economic growth and improved relations with the US and the rest of the West would move China’s leaders to accept a constructive role in our post–World War II liberal international order. Instead, it has created a monster that now threatens US power not only with regard to Taiwan but around the world, a totalitarian superpower that is openly enabling Russia and Iran in their striving for regional hegemony versus the US and its allies — not to mention killing thousands of Americans through the deadly export of tons of illegal fentanyl.