Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, owes her presidency to a pledge to preserve the island’s sovereignty. Her meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, and Beijing’s response to the visit, highlight the complexity of the task.
The meeting between the two leaders, which was broadcast live online, appears to be designed to increase publicity and strengthen the relationship.
Ms Pelosi described Taiwan as “among the freest societies in the world”. She said the congressional delegation traveled to Taiwan “to make it unequivocally clear that we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship.”
Ms Tsai described Ms Pelosi as “Taiwan’s most faithful friend”. She said the spokesman showed “long-term support for Taiwan’s international engagement,” referring to maneuvers between China and other countries to isolate Taiwan from international institutions.
At the event, Ms. Pelosi was awarded an award, the Favorable Clouds Medal, to Taiwanese and foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to Taiwan. Upon receiving the award, Mrs. Pelosi said, laughing, that she would wear it around her office in Washington.
Taiwan, to which Chiang Kai-shek’s forces retreated after the Communist Revolution of 1949, was never part of the People’s Republic of China. These days, it has a distinct identity that makes any voluntary unification with China seem unlikely, even if Beijing treats it as an illegal break with its rule.
Ms Tsai, the first woman to rule Taiwan, came to power in 2016, after eight years in which her predecessor pushed for closer ties with China. The election Focused largely on economic issuesincluding concerns about growing economic ties with the Chinese mainland.
In Ms. Tsai’s first term, it was one of her major projects Trying to revive the island army At a time when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was undergoing massive modernization. but she Strive to impose a new strategic vision on the military leadership of the island.
By 2019, her party had lost a major local election, jeopardizing her chances of winning a second term. The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, gave her a political gift that year by warning that Taiwan “It must be and will beUnited with China – independence efforts there can be countered by armed force.
In response, Ms. Cai dropped her usual cautious ambiguity saying that Mister Shi’s remarks were,Impossible to acceptand call for domestic and international support for de facto Taiwan independence.
she He won re-election in 2020and reversed its fortunes by portraying itself as a defender of the island’s democracy and sovereignty – and by capitalizing on domestic concerns about China’s growing authoritarianism.
Ms. Tsai’s image rose even more after the 2020 election, Buoyed in part by Taiwan’s early success in containing the Corona virus. She continued to reject the condition China had set for better relations: accept Mr. Xi’s view that the island was an unforgiving part of a larger Chinese nation under the Communist Party.
Ms. Tsai was silent in the days before Mrs. Pelosi’s arrival. But political advisers close to her said they welcomed the visits by US officials, and her careful planning of Pelosi’s visit has won some praise from members of the opposition Kuomintang party.
“They did not tell the outside world, try not to antagonize the other party, and did their best to make the situation in the Taiwan Strait not so tense,” said Alexander Huang, head of international affairs for the KMT.
Amy Chang Shen And the John Liu Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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