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America Can’t Allow China to End Taiwan’s Democracy and Dominate Asia

Image of Chinese JH-6 bombers on the ready. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Coincident with China’s Army Day, Beijing rolled out the “Red” carpet for Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan by launching live-fire drills, sending fighter jets into the Taiwan Strait, announcing missile tests in zones encircling Taiwan, and unleashing a tirade of wolf warrior threats of dire consequences to follow for the U.S. and Taiwan.

All of this would seem a bit much in response to the travel of a senior U.S. legislator. U.S. Senate and House members routinely visit Taiwan and have done so for decades. Even a visit by a House Speaker is not without precedent, as Newt Gingrich did so in 1997. So, what makes this visit different? Awkward timing, Xi Jinping’s aggression, and the Biden Administration’s provocative weakness.

China-Taiwan Tensions

A Chengdu J-10 fighter of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Speaker Pelosi could have helped legitimize and normalize this kind of visit if she had chosen to do so during her first tenure as Speaker and earlier in her second tenure. Given her outspoken criticism of China’s human rights violations and welcome disposition to visitors from Taiwan, this would seem to have been a natural priority for her. Unfortunately, it was not. Original plans were announced to visit in April, largely without incident, but had to be postponed due to her bout with COVID-19.

Likely without forethought or situational awareness, Pelosi’s delegation rescheduled for dates overlapping the 95th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army — an occasion on which ethno-nationalist Xi Jinping was certain to flex his political warfare muscles under any circumstances and could easily amplify as if solely planned for Pelosi. This seemed to bedevil the ever-foundering and feckless Biden Administration, who leaked efforts to dissuade Pelosi from visiting and offered conciliatory assurance to Beijing that the U.S. “does not support Taiwan independence.” Pointless and silly, in that Beijing is interested in threatening, not in being reassured, but also emasculating, given that Pelosi was sure to make the trip and the president’s team allowed him to appear less than authoritative as commander in chief or even as the leader of his party.

On substance, all of this matters a great deal more than most may realize. Democratic Taiwan is America’s ninth-largest trade partner and nearly the sole producer of the advanced semiconductor chips on which modern life relies. There never will be a good time for disruption of that supply chain, but especially after COVID, American families cannot handle another Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attack on their daily lives. Moreover, under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is committed to providing Taiwan with adequate self-defense, and there are consequences beyond Taiwan should we fail to meet that commitment.

Thankfully, we have allies and partners willing to share this burden and do their part. Japan sees what China has become under Xi Jinping’s rule and is committed to investing more to support Taiwan’s way of life and deter Chinese aggression. Taiwan, too, has the means to enhance its defenses against Beijing’s political, economic, and military coercion. In both cases, the U.S. can help itself by growing out of self-imposed Cold War constraints and treating both Tokyo and Taipei as reliable and responsible partners whose independent defense capabilities complicate Beijing’s calculus and ease America’s military burden.

Beijing’s coercion of Taiwan and bullying of others will continue beyond the Pelosi visit and the upcoming Communist Party Congress, where Xi’s continued rule is expected to be acclaimed. Xi’s strategy on Taiwan is to encircle but not attack, create friction, instigate internal subversion, and force a takeover of Taiwan’s military. The net result would be highly damaging to American workers, families, and our allies if allowed to proceed to fruition. The defeat of democratic Taiwan would undermine Korea and Japan’s economic and security interests, potentially breaking our alliances and compelling Asia to bend to the hegemony of Xi’s Communist China.

We are not fated for this outcome, however. If we wish to avoid repeating or escalating this week’s war games and other provocations, we must first begin rejecting Beijing’s framing of the conflict. The People’s Republic of China has no legal, cultural, or historical claim over the people or territory of Taiwan. Weak Western minds must stop indulging in this entho-nationalist fantasy. No Beijing-based Chinese government has governed the island. While Mandarin is the national language (hardly a defining factor), Taiwan is as culturally Japanese and American as it is Chinese in many ways. It also has an aboriginal population that should count for something in this equation. Having emerged from decades of martial law into a fully self-governing democracy, that is the only legitimate starting point for defining the current status quo. Neither Taiwan nor others seek to change that. Only China does, by coercion and the threat of attack.

Drawing upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 experience, negotiations with Iran, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it should now be clear that the free world must begin the process of strategic decoupling from China and applying maximum pressure on the CCP regime if we aim to contain its malign influences and alter its current trajectory. Beijing’s threat of sanctions against Taiwan and the U.S. should be a reasonably strong signal to the free world that it needs to transition away from dependency on China for any strategic or vital goods.

This is the path that China under Xi Jinping has put us on. The critical question is whether Taiwan, Japan, the U.S., and others are prepared to endure the disruption, overcome current dependencies, and impose a “maximum pressure” campaign on Xi and his CCP government. China needs the free world more than the free world needs China. Accommodation and flooding an unreformed authoritarian polity with technology and hard currency is what brought us to this point. A brighter future awaits if we sober up and change course now.

Steve Yates is chair of the new China Policy Initiative at the America First Policy Institute and former White House deputy national security advisor to the Vice President (2001-05).

Written By

Steve Yates is chair of the new China Policy Initiative at the America First Policy Institute and former White House deputy national security advisor to the Vice President (2001-05)



  1. Error402

    August 5, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    ‘Democracy’ by George bush war on terror democracy is nothing more than demented democracy or fascist democracy or hitlerian democracy.

    Thus US bombs other nations into embracing democracy that is in other words allowing US military to enter and set up permanent bases followed closely behind by CIA and other undesirable entities.

    The natives of north America were the first to get the first taste of this type of democracy, followed by people in the Philippines, then later in other overseas colonies, then nam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and so on.

    In other words, democracy peddled by Washington and its minions is just demented democracy or genghis democracy.No wonder people reject this democracy.

    Democracy by US means stationing vast numbers of soldiers and weapons that is democracy underpinned by weapons and war machine, not much different from genghis who practised democracy too, when he allowed those who willingly surrendered to keep their way of life while slaughtering those who put up a fight.

    Thus be careful when talking about democracy. What kind of democracy.Demented democracy where the winner emerges after rigging elections and go on to initiate bloody proxy wars abroad. Genghis democracy.Thus other nations HAVE THE RIGHT to oppose this alleged democracy ! Fullstop.

  2. pagar

    August 6, 2022 at 12:03 am

    Xi jinping is following in the footsteps of US presidents, thus he is seen expanding his influence abroad and on a collision course with US and its minions.

    Thus, china is sadly becoming a follower of US, which practises ‘democracy’ or just really slavery to US foreign policy. The result is lots of new military bases springing up and a world divided into two opposing camps. Taiwan is merely being caught in the middle of all this.

  3. Steven

    August 6, 2022 at 12:34 am

    Great article!

  4. David Chang

    August 6, 2022 at 5:33 am

    God bless people in the world.

    We should not promote the worship of democracy, but should worship God.

    During World War II, democratic party cooperated with communist party to cause socialism War in China.
    And democratic party attack Japan people with atomic bomb during World War II.

    Democratic party bring nuclear war to people in the world.

    God bless America.

  5. Yrral

    August 6, 2022 at 6:04 am

    Beware of American offering freedom, because these are some of the same American,that try restrict freedom of others American,with the same quasi repressive of dictator,but do have the power to carry it out

  6. Jim

    August 6, 2022 at 10:11 am

    The author speaks of our allies.

    But ASEAN foreign ministers put out this statement:

    “ASEAN calls for maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action and for upholding the principles enshrined in United Nations Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.”

    When Pelosi went to South Korea after Taiwan, the President was conveniently unavailable to meet Pelosi, and the foreign minister was equally unavailable to meet.

    Sounds like our allies aren’t on board with increasing tension with China over Taiwan. So, other than Japan (admittedly important), the author’s claims are short of being factual regarding regional allies.

    Pelosi’s visit divided Taiwan, itself, with many media outlets and ordinary people upset that Pelosi visited uninvited. (reports suggest Taiwan’s elected political leadership didn’t want Pelosi to visit.)

    But if you want to run roughshod over the “people on the ground” Pelosi’s visit was a masterstroke (and a sure fire way to build support…)

    But you wouldn’t know any of the above if you relied on the present article.

    The author does a drive by on American Official policy regarding Taiwan, the One China Policy: in which the U. S. government, its leaders, and all successive Presidents have affirmed: There is but One China and Taiwan is part of China. (Mentioned by the author in by quoting Biden, in the same weak voice.)

    The author states, “The People’s Republic of China has no legal, cultural, or historical claim over the people or territory of Taiwan.

    This statement is intellectual dishonesty and disingenuous at best.

    The main opposition party in Taiwan, itself, supports the One China Policy and most of the world supports the current policy of the U. S. (One China Policy) and, Taiwan, itself.

    The author goes on to state, “Weak Western minds must stop indulging in this entho-nationalist fantasy.”

    Hardly, it’s actually 180 degrees opposite, weak minds go with the flow and follow the drums of war. Weak minds “go along to get along”, so go with the war narrative. In this climate, it’s those who object to a “drift to war” that have to have the strong mind, if for nothing else, they have to mentally “swim upstream into the current” (a rather swift political current at this time).

    A policy that depends on bullying our allies and ignoring U. S. commitments, i.e., repudiating the One China policy (as the author clearly implied), is bound to be just as successful as U. S. Ukraine policy.

    Putting America first? The policy implications of this article is that foreign policy elites are put First and the American People put last.

  7. Doug Hasler

    August 6, 2022 at 2:09 pm


    While “democracy” need not be worshiped, we should recognize that religious freedoms are far more likely to flourish in democratic as opposed to communist governments. Your statement about the “Democratic” party cooperated with communist party to cause socialism war in China” is, in part, unintelligible, and an inaccurate statement of history. The US (under a Democratic administration) provided support to Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist leader in resisting Japan’s invasion of China, and in the fight against Mao’s Communists.

    It is utterly simplistic to maintain that the Democratic party attacked the Japanese people with the atomic bomb. Again . . . the US was led by the Roosevelt, and later Truman administrations during the war. The atomic bomb was developed at great cost not only to use it as a weapon of war, but also to have it in the US arsenal in the event that Germany and/or Japan would develop their own atomic weapon. Prior to using the A-bomb, Curtis LeMay’s B-29s were firebombing Japanese cities with devastating effect, not only in the destruction of property, but also inflicting catastrophic casualties against Japanese citizens. A single firebombing of Tokyo killed 88,000, a death toll greater than Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Whether the US chose to use its atomic weapons, or not, its firebombing campaign was killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese. It has been said many times that war is h*ll. It certainly was/is. The American people were overwelmingly supportive of both the firebombing of Japanese cities, and using the A-bombs. To attribute the use of these weapons to the “Democratic” party is baseless. The Army, Navy, Marine forces which would have been called upon to invade Japan in the absence of using atomic weapons certainly favored dropping these weapons. While Japan was clearly “beaten” long before the A-bombs were dropped, Japanese military forces and armed civilians would have resisted an invasion resulting in death tolls among Americans and Japanese far greater than resulted from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    I am no apologist for the Democratic party, but I don’t blame them for developing or using such weapons during WWII. Mankind would have developed these weapons sooner or later. It is a good thing that these weapons were developed by democratic governments (US, Britain, France) initially. If these weapons were solely in the arsenals of Russia, China, and revolutionary Islamic states, we would be living in a different world today.

  8. Neil Ross Hutchings

    August 6, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    The People’s Republic of China has no legal, cultural, or historical claim over the people or territory of Taiwan. 

    How easily this could be re-written if one were to hold to the same standards as the U.S. is upholding with regards to Taiwan.

    The Ukraine has no legal, cultural, or historical claim over the people or territory of Eastern Ukraine. 

    Set up an industrial base in another country and then claim sovereign status for that territory down the road. Americas, Cuba, Ukraine and Formosa. That is how larger countries like to behave with smaller countries within their sphere of influence.

  9. Anybody

    August 6, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    So much posted about the shortfalls of ‘democracy’. I will tell you one thing. Anybody who has ever lived somewhere where they have a vote will tell you they prefer that than some place where they have a gun pointed at their head 24/7.

    Let the world separate into blocks. As the Ukraine invasion and what China is doing have shown, there is really no way to live side by side with the savages. There needs to be guarded tall walls for self protection.

  10. TheDon

    August 6, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    We should be working toward being good trade partners. War with China,Russia,NK? Are you insane? What would that do. War isnt easily forgotten.
    Trade, economics however do matter.

  11. David Chang

    August 7, 2022 at 8:00 am


    God bless people in the world.

    But Democratic party do something wrong. First, they promote slavery and cause civil war. Second, they cooperating with Communist party, assign General Joseph Stilwell for helping Communist party, thus causing socialism war in China and Vietnam.

    In world war II, some people suggested Truman stop the atomic bombing, but Truman rejected these moral persuasion.

    God bless America.

  12. Anybody

    August 7, 2022 at 8:10 am

    @TheDon The globalization dream of the whole world living in harmony with trade being the glue has been shattered once and for all by Russian invasion and China’s sword rattling. That was a nice dream.

    Now let’s get on with it. Divide up the world into blocks.

    Globalization and the prosperity the comes with it in the front room.

    Rest dine in the back room where, regardless of nationality or religion, all eats with the left hand cause the right hand needs to hover over the holster all the time. Diners there look across the diner table, see themselves, and know exactly how much they can trust the guy sitting there.

  13. Yrral

    August 7, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    Big Trouble in Little China, observation of marine traffic,it was field with 100 of ships with cargo,enter and exiting the Taiwan Strait,these demonstration was more for domestic consumption,but drove up the price of China ship insurance,war would tank China economically Google Marine Traffic Taiwan Strait

  14. Stefan Stackhouse

    August 7, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    Russia couldn’t allow Austria-Hungary to end Serbia’s democracy and dominate the Balkans, and Germany couldn’t allow Russia to humiliate and dominate Austria-Hungary. How well did THAT work out?

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