(This chain of thoughts was tweeted late on the night of 01 August 2022)
Folks, sharing some thoughts regarding the proposed visit of Nancy Pelosi Ji to Taiwan.
Let’s see how it goes!
Firstly, a bit of history.
The ‘Renegade Province’ of Taiwan actually came into existence as a consequence of the bitter war for domination of China between the Communists led by Mao Zedong and the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai Shek. During the entirety of World War II, it was the Nationalists that fought and fought the Japanese, while Mao conserved his strength by offering only very minor engagements in order to keep the pretense of fighting the invaders.
Naturally, by the time the Japanese were defeated, the Nationalists too were quite weakened. Consequently, it was just a matter of time before Mao was able to rout them and establish full control over mainland China. Chiang Kai Shek had to flee via sea to the island of Formosa.
Thus came about the People’s Republic of China in the mainland, while the Republic of China was established in Formosa, now more popularly known as Taiwan.
Btw, it might be VERY interesting to note that USA was majorly tilted towards Mao in his ‘struggle’ against Chiang in the years immediately before the establishment of the PRC!
But then, who are we to question ‘history’, right?
Especially when the same USA practically forced Taiwan to give up its permanent UNSC seat & Veto to the same Mao!
Anyhow, coming over to the current day and age, it is fairly common knowledge that the People’s Republic of China rapidly transforms into the PARANOID Republic of China if someone even so much as has a dream that Taiwan is an independent country!
So one really wonders what was Nancy Ji thinking when she decided to go to Taiwan!
I’m sure she is quite a seasoned politician to know how China would react and predictably so, China has not disappointed one bit, what with their loud chest thumping and shrill warnings!
Or might it be that she misread the possible Chinese reactions?
Well, time will tell, including whether or not she actually makes good on her pre-announced plans to land in Taipei.
Since that bit about ‘Will She or Wont She?’ is still a few hours away, let me spend some time on what is at stake for both, the US and China.
Cold as this statement might sound, but IMO Taiwan is mere collateral damage, akin to the proverbial grass that gets trampled when elephants wrestle.
Getting back to the issue of the announcement of Pelosi to visit Taiwan, as well as the timing, it makes for a very interesting set of observations.
I’ll not go into what motivated this plan in the first place though because frankly, I am not a mind reader!
Instead, I will try & put into context the current realities in the midst of which this latest issue has flared up.
Firstly, current US Govt is not very popular domestically at the moment IMO, what with the economy headed into recession (despite how wikipedia defines Recession!)
Secondly, with the latest ‘expose’ of a much exposed Shri Hunter Biden Ji (which has practically vanished from social media, btw. Kudos to the ‘ecosystems’!) and Papa Biden getting COVID at about the same time, and then once AGAIN when the Taiwan visit issue flared up, things in Washington DC are definitely not very rosy.
And all this as the country heads out for a major election this November which many say is as good as lost for the ruling party!
Understandably, a govt that is already being perceived as weak or even sold out to China (thanks to the allegations of POTUS’ son being on the payroll of Chinese companies / his companies being paid ridiculous amounts of money by Chinese businesses), may not want to be seen as backing down in the face of Chinese pressures and threats.
Hence, the reports and visuals of all that American military hardware – ships, fighters, refuellers and all that – amassing in the region. Almost as if daring China to try and stop the visit!
So .. will China be the ‘Bigger Man’ and permit Nancy Ji to carry on with the visit?
Well .. I think we all know the answer to this question, right?
Xi Jinping has his own compulsions at NOT being seen as weak .. not at this point in his history.
Mind you, I say ‘his history‘ and not his country’s history because Xi Jinping too is well on his way to ensure that his legacy lasts long indeed!
In fact this is the very reason why he chose to anoint himself as ‘Chairman for Life’ aka Mao himself, by discarding the two term limit put in place by Deng Xiaoping. He has his own plans for China, you see!
These plans definitely do NOT include permitting Pelosi to visit Taiwan!
To top it up, the Chinese economy itself is not doing very well and then there is the ‘minor’ issue of the next People’s Congress coming up for Xi Jinping which though already fixed, still needs to be conducted the way he desires!
Consequently, all those visuals of Chinese military hardware heading out towards possible launchpads for the much threatened invasion of Taiwan, and the bombastic statements by govt and quasi govt mouthpieces in China ‘urging’ US not to go ahead with the visit!
Basically, both countries have painted themselves in a corner with no more scope for a diplomatic, or in other words a ‘FACE SAVING’ way out.
(Unless of course there is a major political event back home that demands Pelosi Ji return home post haste!)
All in all, diplomacy has truly and utterly failed. What will decide the issue is the perceived muscle power of the two belligerents now.
Sadly, it has become a zero-sum game due to the extreme positions taken up by both the sides with no scope of a negotiated climbdown!
I would sum up the above statement with the help of this visual for those who didn’t understand it.
You are welcome!
I describe this photograph as: ‘Chal dekhte hain kiski jaan jayegi .. Usne meri aur Maine Uski Kasam Khayi Hai!’
What I’m saying is that even if one side decides to take a pragmatic step and decide to cool things down on their part, they will find it politically impossible to sell to their domestic audiences. Events of past few days have put paid to any possibility of any pragmatic solution.
So the big question is ‘What Happens Next?’
I’ll try and make some sense of it based on my understanding of things.
Disclaimer: Based on MY understanding of things! Feel free to disagree!
Firstly, the trigger for what happens or for that matter, does not happen next is in the hands of the Americans. China have made their very rigid stand very clear. It is now up to Nancy Pelosi to either show up in Taiwan or not!
This is what I wrote in a DM group some days back:
And then a day later came this tweet by the lady in question herself, without any mention of Taiwan whatsoever!
Of course, I was patting my back!
And just a couple of hours later, in a totally unrelated news, THIS happened!
In a way, it is also a very convenient excuse for ‘communication void’ in the midst of a very unappetizing situation, but then, that is mere speculation in some corners!
Just about 30 hours later, the latest announcements coming in from the US insisted that ‘No, she is definitely going to Taiwan. Here is her itinerary!’
Looks like they had finally realised that there was no way out now!
All in all, it must have been a sleepless weekend for diplomats in Washington DC & Beijing as well as the military folks rushing towards Taiwan from both these countries!
There still is time to see whether she actually does go to Taiwan or not. I still won’t rule out she NOT going to Taiwan even though chances of that happening don’t seem too bright. Because if there is one country that can ‘explain’ away a climbdown in this situation, it is the US.
Even though it would be a political disaster to now decide to climb down unilaterally esp after the shrill warnings from China, a relatively sympathetic media might still be able to soften the blow on the current US administration.
Yet, there will be some political cost to it.
Which brings me to my original question – Did they not know of how China will react to this plan?
I am still wondering as to what triggered this visit plan in the first place because I somehow cannot get myself to believe that they would be so naïve to NOT anticipate this.
So was it deliberate?
My gut feeling says it is. But to what end, I am still not fully sure. This tweet below does stands to logic, but then would China be willing to pay a price to ‘help’ out the US Govt? Or is it a trap? Like I said before – Sadly, I’m not a mindreader!
Let’s just assume for a moment that hypothetically, Xi does indeed want to help Biden. So what can he do?
The lowest hanging fruits are the islands of Matsu and Kinmen that are practically PRC’s to take should they decide to.
Heck, even as early as the 1950s, Mao had shelled Kinmen Islands in order to register his annoyance at the US!
But then, those were the 1950s & these are the 2020s. China under Xi Jinping truly believes that their time has now come. Would they be willing to settle for just this?
The might of the PLA, PLAN and PLAAF that is being built up with great vigour for the past two decades is ‘potentially’ capable of taking much much more than just these low hanging fruits, no?
You know why I had the word ‘potentially’ in quotes in the paragraph above? Because when time came to show their mettle against a rag-tag militia in South Sudan, the ‘mighty’ PLA were cowering behind the walls of their compound. It was Indians that saved them!
Here’s the Link to the blog post that captures the above thread about PLA Myths. Do read!
People’s Liberation Army – Calling the Bluff
That reminds me, today (or rather yesterday, since it is past midnight now) was the PLA Day as well! A happy coincidence, I’d say!
Coming back to the topic at hand. In case she does land in Taiwan as scheduled, I don’t see any scenario in which force is NOT going to be used by atleast one of the sides.
Like I said before, Taiwan doesn’t really have a say in this matter any more .. UNLESS .. they chicken out and request Pelosi Ji not to visit. In fact, that would be the best case scenario for all concerned and especially for Taiwan!
The USA can sell it by calling it ‘respecting Taiwan’s Wishes’ while China too can declare victory by (rightfully) claiming they scared off the USA!
Taiwan too wins by getting to stay alive!
Jokes apart, as they say, we are all Prisoners of Geography. This is something that just cannot be wished away. Either make peace with it, or continue fighting it forever.
I wrote this not so long ago while talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
(Here’s the link to the blog post that captures the above thread : On the Russia-Ukraine Issue
A LOT of folks were watching, and are watching still.
This is not about Taiwan being a part of PRC or otherwise. No way. This is more about who gets to be the top dog in the years to come. China thinks it is them, while the US disagrees. THIS, folks, is the bottomline!
Once again, another tweet from the Russia – Ukraine thread of some months ago :
As mentiond in the tweet quoted above, thanks to the horrific visuals from the initial days of the Ukrainian invasion by Russia, Taiwan might actually voluntarily give in to Chinese demands in order to avoid destruction. Call it a flight of fancy on my part, but I still cannot discard this possibility!
Of course, the Taiwanese themselves must already have calculated the risks of a kinetic engagement with China that goes beyond mere airspace and maritime boundary violations!
Btw, here’s a quick question – Name ONE war that the USA has decisively won ever since the end of the second world war and left with its aims achieved.
Saying Panama or Grenada would be an insult to the military might of the USA, I’d say. So try harder!
And if Chinese and American militaries start having a go at each other over Taiwan, guess who else will be forced to jump into the fray?
Not just because American bases in Japanese territory may come under attack, but because the Senkaku Islands and Okinawa itself are hardly one step ahead for the PLAN once they gain control of Taiwan!
All in all, the world is rapidly heading towards another major, and dare I say, inevitable clash of civilizations. On that note, I’ll just leave this eight year old tweet here:
Moving on from an eight year old tweet, I’ll also share a more recent tweet from five months ago:
What this ‘Manthan’ throws out in the end remains to be seen.
We may be well advised to remember that the oldest Manthan that Indian epics talk about, churned out ‘Vish’ before ‘Amrit’ came by.
At that time there was the Neelkanth to take care of it.
Who fulfills that role this time, remains to be seen.
So what role does India play in this?
Well, I’d say the role of a passive spectator suits us the best!
Just as the US did with us in the past!
On a more serious note, a fight in Taiwan Straits, if it comes, is not our fight. Even a notionally victorious China will definitely be a threat in future. But given our current capabilities, I’d say we need to sit this one out if they come to blows.
Feel free to disagree!
On that note, I’ll start to wind up this thread. In the context of the mention of Japan some tweets above, I’ll share this here:
They all know that the waters around them are heating up and they for sure don’t want to get boiled like that proverbial frog!
All I’ll say is that the first shots in the upcoming war wherein China seeks to assert its supremacy and USA seeks to retain theirs, have already been fired by the way of Pelosi’s visit plans. What remains to be seen is whether further shots come by in the form of shot and shell.
I’ve said all that I could, especially at this late hour in my part of the world and an early office tomorrow!
All we can do is to wait now and see whether she lands in Taiwan or not, and if she does, how far is China willing to go to make good their threats.
Hope this longish blog post made atleast some sense to you. Will do another thread in case the situation so demands.