Speaker Pelosi’s Visit to Taipei Telegraphs Congressional Support for Taiwan’s Sovereignty
This kind of clarity on the nature of America’s commitment to Taiwan’s sovereignty is a surer way to avoid conflict than strategic ambiguity which could easily result in miscalculation, igniting a war that no one wants.
By Karla Jones, Senior Task Force Director, Task Force on International Relations and Federalism
After days of speculation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed at Songshan Airport in Taipei on Tuesday – the first Speaker of the US House of Representatives to visit since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. This Congressional Delegation trip (CODEL) embodies the type of high level exchange that the Taiwan Travel Act adopted in 2018 and supported in ALEC model policy was meant to facilitate. The visit also highlights Congress’ commitment to the island nation. Combined with President Biden’s recent statements on defending Taiwan militarily if necessary and the strengthening of bilateral ties under the Trump administration, Pelosi’s visit underscores that the White House and the co-equal legislative branch of the US government prioritize and recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty. During an address to the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament), Speaker Pelosi – an outspoken critic of China’s human rights abuses for more than three decades – emphasized Congress’ uncommon unity on support for Taiwan, declaring that with the Taiwan Relations Act (also supported by ALEC model policy), “America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan.” She described the US-Taiwan “thriving partnership” and “the economic ties that power” both democracies. This kind of clarity on the nature of America’s commitment to Taiwan’s sovereignty is a surer way to avoid conflict than strategic ambiguity which could easily result in miscalculation, igniting a war that no one wants.
China predictably overreacted to the CODEL that was discouraged but could not be halted by the Biden Administration using defense, economic and diplomatic tools to communicate its opposition. The PRC ramped up military exercises, firing missiles ever closer to Taiwan and crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait multiple times. China also enacted bans on food and sand exports from the island nation and scheduled meetings with European diplomats in Beijing to protest Speaker Pelosi’s trip while simultaneously canceling discussions with US officials. US-China talks and cooperation on climate change and defense have been suspended as well.
Taiwan typically figures prominently at ALEC conferences, including the one that wrapped up last week in Atlanta, Georgia, where model policy supporting the establishment of Taiwan Friendship Caucuses and Taiwan’s inclusion in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework were discussed and adopted by ALEC’s Federalism & International Relations Task Force. Taiwan’s Ambassador Hsiao addressed an ALEC plenary at last summer’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah in a speech that went viral around the globe, and ALEC honored Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen with our International Pioneer Award at the 2020 States and Nation Policy Summit. ALEC members recognize Taiwan as a beacon of democracy in a geographic region where functional good governance is rare. As Speaker Pelosi observed at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, “America’s determination to preserve democracy [in Taiwan] and around the world is ironclad.”
NewsNet TV featured Jones in a story about Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. View story here.