THE US House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan has angered China, ratcheting up tensions between the two superpowers. China has banned the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan and halted shipments of sand to the island. China has also announced live-fire military drills encircling Taiwan. In the run up to the visit, China had warned the US of having to “pay a price” for Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. Even though there was uncertainty about the visit until the last moment, the US chose not to give in to Beijing’s threats.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and views foreign visits as recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Though the US has a ‘One-China policy’ whereby it sees Taiwan as a part of China, Washington has maintained diplomatic and defence ties with Taipei. Now the high-profile visit of Pelosi to Taiwan, first such of its nature in 25 years, is making Beijing doubt the sincerity of Washington’s One-China policy. It has warned of consequences and the ongoing economic curbs and the military maneuvers are a part of this reaction. Whether this will snowball into a major confrontation between the two superpowers is difficult to predict. Can we expect China to militarily act against Taiwan just like Russia did against Ukraine? Nothing can be said with certainty. But the visit certainly has deepened the bitterness between the US and China.
At the root of the visit is the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing. It is the fight for the control of the new world order. On a grander scale, the visit has come as the latest twist in the ongoing great power duel as America faces one of its severest tests as the world’s sole superpower. Some western experts have already written the epitaph of America’s unipolar moment. In that sense, it would be interesting to see who blinks first in this great power war of nerves. And that could decide the new superpower of the world.
But America, despite its recent setback in Afghanistan, its failure to have its way in Syria, and its difficulties in pushing Russia out of Ukraine, remains the world’s No 1 power. Its GDP and defense expenditure remains several times higher than its nearest competitor China. That said, we are at an interesting moment in history. The outcome of the current maneuvering by the US and China – two superpowers – will determine the new global geopolitics if not the new superpower of the world.
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