THE RANGE OF PEOPLE condemning US politician Nancy Pelosi for smashing the long-held agreement that kept people in East Asia safe is eyebrow-raising. The US “speaker of the house” flew to Taiwan on Tuesday, August 2, in violation of pacts that prevent senior US officials from visiting the island. Below, we review a range of responses in traditional and social media.
The move is “utterly reckless, dangerous and irresponsible” said Thomas Friedman, a New York Times writer who normally takes a harsh stance against China. “Nothing good will come of it. Taiwan will NOT be more secure or more prosperous as a result of this purely symbolic visit, and a lot of bad things could happen.”
Another critic of China, former US President Donald Trump, said the visit would “make trouble” and “cause great friction”.
OPPOSITE OF DEMOCRACY
However, the Financial Times’ Tom Mitchell, another journalist with a relentlessly negative view on Mainland China, blamed China’s leader for the tension. “On Taiwan policy in general, and this crisis in particular, Xi has painted himself into a corner,” he wrote.
But he appeared to be one of very few voices trying to blame China. Most took a diametrically opposite view. “The US no longer even makes an effort to conceal its desire to subjugate the entire world by force,” said columnist Maria Dubovikova, a Middle East writer.
Nobody believes the argument that this is “a stand for democracy” said many voices. Daniel De Petris, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek wrote: “Framing Pelosi’s Taiwan trip as an extension of some morality contest between democracies and autocracies (as Pelosi did in her statement) strikes me as dumb considering the president spent time with two of the most ruthless autocrats on the planet a few weeks ago.”
TIRED OF THE EXCUSE
Many people said they were tired of the line that the “the US stands for democracy”, an excuse rolled out too often. “Perhaps it’s time we stop using the democracy vs. autocracy argument at every opportunity?” De Petris asked.
Joe Segal agreed. “Democracy versus autocracy is the new domino theory,” he said. “I think it’s really a struggle between competing oligarchies over control of resources: oil, minerals, cheap labor and consumer markets being top among these.”
Lawyer-journalist Dimitri Lascaris said: “You’d have to be brain-dead to believe that Pelosi’s Taiwan visit has anything to do with democracy… This is all about preserving U.S. hegemony.”
China was smart not to attack the plane, many people said. Doing such a thing “would only make Pelosi a martyr,” said Ni Mingda, a popular social media commentator. “Worst, the U.S. could argue that she technically never ‘set foot’ on Taiwan, and what China did was unprovoked aggression. The CPC is not foolish.”
“Don’t view the Chinese restrained response thus far as a sign of weakness, but an upcoming pronounced and calculated set of actions with specific targets in mind,” said Taro Taylor, a popular voice on social media in Hong Kong. “I, for one, am in full admiration of the wisdom and restraint shown by the Chinese.”
But he warned that the US move had heightened dangers for everyone. “Welcome to a changed world,” he wrote.
MILITARISM AND MONE
What happened was more proof that US militarism rules the world, said many voices. “Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit points to another corner of the earth where the USA wants more, endless conflict,” said Nick Estes, a representative of Native Americans, on social media. “An US$838.8 billion bipartisan defence bill sets the US commitment to a new Cold War with China. What a waste of social wealth for the masters of war.”
The irony is that Pelosi’s trip will not preserve US hegemony but end it, said Tucker Carlson, a popular U.S. TV commentator. Her trip will “hasten the end of American hegemony, which is to say the end of the U.S. as we know it,” he said.
Many said prospects for peace were bleak. Pete Martins said: “We can say ‘war is horrible’ as much as we want. But the truth is, only the US can wage war without any repercussions. The UN and EU are all in. So, when and how, will we get any change?”
PROBLEMS FOR THE MEDIA
The move has made massive problems for the western media, several people pointed out. It has shown up their uncritical acceptance of the pro-DC point of view. For example, the Guardian wrote about a plan by British anti-China campaigner Tom Tugendhat to follow Pelosi’s lead and take a group of British MPs to Taiwan.
It has now become hard for western media to blame China for destroying prospects for peace when the ordinary person on the street can see that the opposite is true.
UK China expert John Ross gave an example of erroneous media coverage: “The Wall Street Journal today has editorial on Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan which refers to something Mao Zedong ‘said’ in 1979, which means the editorial writer did not even know Mao had been dead for three years in 1979.” Ross said the error “really sums up WSJ ignorance on China”.
OR WAS IT A DISTRACTION?
Others said Pelosi’s trip was a carefully timed distraction. “The U.S. is mired in an inflation crisis, a proxy war in Ukraine it cannot win, and a political crisis that is likely to see the Democrats swept out of Congress in November,” said Danny Haiphong, a popular political commentator. “Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip is a dangerous distraction from homegrown ills.”
Finance writer Charles Gasparino from Fox Business said: “Wall Street trading desk chatter involves how [her husband] Paul Pelosi is gaming the markets to make a few bucks. Speculation he’s shorting the S&P. Just rumor but Paul’s penchant to trade colors everything she does now.”
Trader James Goodwin agreed. “This has been going on for decades,” he said.
The present writer notes that an interesting point emerges when talking to business and financial people about this topic. They are uniformly in agreement that the US does not care about the people of Taiwan, but is willing to let them be harmed for the sake of US political interests.
And what about the falls in the stock market, as tension has risen? “Taiwan’s tiny,” a financier said. “If there’s trouble between mainland China and Taiwan, it’s possible effects on business in China that we’ll focus on. Sorry, Taiwan.”
Keawe Wong, a web-developer working on the mainland, was happy that China didn’t react. “The children in Taiwan and Fujian are now sleeping peacefully,” he wrote on social media yesterday (August 2). “China showed the world tonight how a responsible and peace-loving world power should behave.”