Chicken Out – U.S. House Speaker McCarthy & Taiwanese President Tsai To Meet In California Instead Of Taipei

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Mar 08 2023
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In January, China warned U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy not to visit Taiwan, lecturing the California Republican that the United States should respect the one-Chine principle. While Beijing did not say what China would do in response to any such trip, you don’t need Einstein to tell that Beijing will gladly repeat precisely what it had done after Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last August.


The Chinese government was trying to remind the newly elected U.S. Speaker how the People’s Liberation Army launched unprecedented drills around Taiwan, effectively blocking the island after the defiant Democrat Nancy Pelosi made her visit just to provoke China. As the first House speaker in 25 years to visit Taiwan, Pelosi received her 10-minute glory.


So, the next month (Feb 2023), McCarthy responded – “I don’t think China can tell me where I can go.” He had no plan to let Pelosi stole all the thunder. He could not afford to be seen as a weaker leader than the former Democrat speaker. After all, a month before Pelosi’s disastrous visit to Taiwan, McCarthy had declared that he would like to make the same trip as Speaker.

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen

Today, however, about a month after his promise to go anywhere he likes, the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives makes a spectacular U-turn. According to Reuters and Financial Times, the highly sensitive trip that will certainly provoke Beijing again has been cancelled. Instead McCarthy will meet Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen in California.


So, who chicken out first – Speaker McCarthy or President Tsai or both? To save face, Taiwan’s defence minister, Chiu Kuo-Cheng, said he was not aware of the new plan to meet in the U.S., but at the same time said Taipei would not allow “repeated provocations”. McCarthy office has reluctantly confirmed the cancellation, but argues that the speaker can still visit Taiwan in the “future”.


Some Western media, in attempts to reduce humiliation, have pointed fingers at the Tsai administration for refusing to approve McCarthy’s visit. Either way, both Washington and Taipei have chicken out. In fact, it’s safe to suggest that the Taiwanese government was not convinced American troops would come to its rescue if China launches a sudden invasion.

China President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

If indeed Taiwan was absolutely sure the military superpower is willing to sacrifice American sons and daughters to protect Taiwanese people and defend democracy, as trumpeted by President Joe Biden, then President Tsai Ing-Wen should invite McCarthy to the island the same way Pelosi was welcomed. In the same breath, it also means the U.S. cannot win a war with China.


If the U.S. has the capability to defeat China, or at least weaken the Chinese military forces without suffering a massive loss of American troops and machines, it would have given a sufficient guarantee to Taiwan to proceed with McCarthy’s visit. It would be hard to justify why the U.S. Air Force and Navy could facilitate Pelosi’s trip to Taipei, but not McCarthy.


About 4 weeks ago, some 56% Taiwanese said they were in favour of a visit by Republican lawmaker Kevin McCarthy in a survey done by TVBS, a major Taiwanese broadcaster. Only 23% of people were against the visit – suggesting that President Tsai has every reason to meet the U.S. Speaker on Taiwanese soil. Strangely, neither Taiwan nor the U.S. wanted the trip to happen.

Taiwan Election 2018 - President Tsai Ing-wen Major Loss

So, why suddenly the U.S. and Taiwan decide not to cross the red line after spending so much resources provoking China, including a plan to deploy between 100 and 200 U.S. troops to the island? What happens to the war game simulations by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that claims China would lose 155 fighter jets and 138 warships, and fails in its invasion of Taiwan?


Less than 24 hours after Pelosi left Taiwan, China had fired at least 11 Dong-Feng ballistic missiles into seas north, south and east of Taiwan on August 4, 2022. The last time China launched missiles into water around Taiwan was in 1996. Beijing was well prepared when it announced four days of intensive military exercises around Taiwan – after live-fire military drills greeted Pelosi’s arrival.


Six zones were identified by the Chinese military to seal off Taiwan and repel foreign intervention. And for the first time, at least one of the Chinese missiles flew over Taiwan. However, the Japanese Ministry of Defence said five ballistic missiles landed in Japan’s EEZ (exclusive economic zone), including four that had flown over Taiwanese airspace.

Pelosi Visit To Taiwan - China Military Drill Map

Taiwan’s Patriot surface-to-air defence system did not try to shoot down any of the missiles. Taipei only said the missiles had travelled above the atmosphere and therefore posed no risk, despite having breached its airspace. Those missiles had flown a distance of between 350 kilometres to 700 kilometres. On August 5, Taiwan defence ministry admitted China’s 68 aircrafts and 13 warships crossed the “median line”.


The median line – the halfway point between the island and mainland China – had been an informal border of control which was respected by both parties. Thanks to Pelosi, Beijing said the line no longer exists. The drills obviously were being carried out to send a message that a sea blockade can be imposed on Taiwan as well as to show off the Chinese military’s ability to deploy precision missiles.


China had even sent some drones around Okinawa prefecture in Japan, prompting the U.S. strongest ally in the region to scramble fighter jets. Yet, despite all the Chinese retaliations, the U.S. could only watch from a distance. In fact, the U.S. had cancelled a test launch of “Minute III” ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) in order not to further anger the Chinese government.

China Fighter Jets In Taiwan

The question is what can the U.S. do if China’s strategy is to force Taiwan to surrender through a sea blockade, declaring the island a “no-fly zone” and cutting all types of communications and trades with the outside world? The disruption to the supply chain, especially semiconductor from Taiwan and South Korea to the West, will crash the world financial markets.


Sure, the U.S. and its allies can condemn China till the kingdom comes. Together with Taiwan, they can even complain that the sea blockade violates the United Nations rules. But unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is not a member of the U.N. because it is not a sovereign state. If the U.S. or Taiwan attacks China first, it would be a declaration of war, allowing the Chinese to retaliate in full force.


And unlike Ukraine, where the U.S. and NATO can freely supply weapons and aid to the country from Poland, the island of Taiwan will be encircled by the Chinese forces. The only way for the U.S. and its allies to send reinforcement or weapons is to go through the People’s Liberation Army Navy – sparking a World War 3 or even the first Nuclear War.

China DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile – Aircraft Carrier Killer

According to the U.S. Defence Department’s report, China has 2,000 land-based anti-ship ballistic missiles ready to strike enemy warships, including aircraft carriers. Along with cruise missiles, those Chinese missiles with a range between 500 kilometres and 5,500 kilometres will overwhelm American anti-missile systems. And we have not even talked about hypersonic anti-ship missiles.


That’s a ratio of about 7 missiles to one American warship, assuming the U.S. could mobilize all the 280 ships in its possession to fight China in the South China Sea. We have not put into the calculation the 340 Chinese warships in the region. Of course, there are also at least three militarized artificial islands – Mischief Reef, Subi Reef and Fiery Cross – all in the Spratly archipelago.


All the fully militarized islands are armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, not to mention laser and jamming equipments and fighter jets – all of which make the islands look like unsinkable aircraft carriers. Crucially, it appears only Japan can help Taiwan, unlike the Ukraine War where the nearby 30 members of NATO have been extending aid to Ukraine.

China Invasion of Taiwan - Drill

The ongoing Ukraine War has seen U.S. allies in Europe already stretched thin with helping Ukraine. In the event president Biden retaliates with financial and economic sanctions after Beijing imposed a sea blockade on Taiwan, all bets are off and China could use it as an excuse to send weapons to Russia. It would be a fantasy to think NATO can help Taiwan.


Still, there’s no guarantee that another sea blockade will not happen under the pretext of yet another military drill if President Tsai deliberately provokes Beijing with her speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California – one of her so-called “stopovers” during the upcoming visit there in April. China is eagerly waiting for excuses to flex its muscles.


Beijing has been watching conflicts in Ukraine with great interest. After successfully pressured NATO to supply tanks, Ukrainian president Zelensky has demanded that the U.S. sends their sons and daughters to fight in the Ukraine War. Do you think America will go to war with the Chinese when NATO is struggling helping Ukraine defends a small city called Bakhmut?

Taiwan Map


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Another well written article telling the true and almost complete story about Taiwan/US/China conflict. From a military standpoint, island states like Taiwan, Singapore and Japan are very difficult to defend. All need to do is surround the island and there is nothing one can do. That is why China military exercise is always about surrounding Taiwan which is the right strategy. 70 % of Taiwanese people are basically Chinese and what they yearn for is to reunite with motherland. The rest of the 30% Taiwanese are those with Japanese blood longing for Taiwan independent. If once Taiwan get to be independent they would declared as a vassal state of Japan. And Japan would invite US to put missiles in Taiwan pointing at China. That is why no matter what, Taiwan cannot be independent but to reunify with China. From my perspective, China and Taiwan would have a peaceful re-unification. When the right time comes the 70% Taiwanese people would just choose to welcome China and reunify. As the rest of the 30% Taiwanese which wanted independent some would either leave Taiwan or continue to pretend they are Chinese.
“The only way China invades Taiwan is if that provocation was orchestrated by the US.They’re fearmongering about Chinese aggression in a tense standoff that only tense because of US aggression.” (Permission to quote attributed to Caitlin Johnston).

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