Patron: Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand

Rhetoric intensifying between the U.S. and China on Taiwan

Dr Anita Perkins

On 2 August 2022, U.S. speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan as part of a tour of Asia. Chinese officials condemned the visit and stepped-up military exercises around Taiwan. Since then, political rhetoric on Taiwan-China relations has been intensifying in the media and in foreign policy discussions, including at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Here we summarise some recent media commentary on these discussions on Taiwan, including direct snippets from those articles.

A Taiwan perspective on what is at stake after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan

Norah Huang, Brookings

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent an important message by visiting Taiwan. Her message was straightforward: “The visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” even as Taiwan faces China’s intimidating threats.


Pelosi’s message matters, especially when U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is leading efforts to rouse like-minded democracies and countries benefiting from the cross-Strait status quo to speak up for Taiwan. The United States is encouraging its Indo-Pacific allies, the EU, the G-7, and the broader international community to voice support for maintaining peace and stability through bilateral, mini-lateral, and multilateral statements. These efforts to encourage countries to release public statements in support of preserving the status quo could help deter Beijing by raising the costs and potential punishments for China if it decides to attack Taiwan.

Taiwan: Biden risks talking himself into a war he cannot win

Hugh White, The Interpreter

The more often US President Joe Biden appears to abandon strategic ambiguity by saying quite clearly that America would go to war with China to defend Taiwan, the more difficult it becomes to dismiss what he says as a presidential fumble.


My hunch, however, is that nothing Washington is saying makes much difference to Beijing’s calculations about the risks of attacking Taiwan. The Biden administration’s ambiguous repudiation of strategic ambiguity will do little if anything to counterbalance the big, brutal fact – that as China has grown stronger, the cost to America of defending Taiwan has grown to far outweigh the imperatives for it to do so.

A war with China really would be World War Three. Biden has told the world that he is not willing to fight that war for Ukraine, so why would the Chinese believe that he will fight it for Taiwan? Until he can articulate an unambiguous answer to that question, the Chinese will continue to become harder and harder to deter. And the risk will grow that if or when the Chinese attack, Biden will find that he has talked himself and his country into a war they cannot win and do not need to fight.

Pelosi’s Taiwan visit ‘not provocative;’ China the only threat: Pompeo

Focus Taiwan

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded China on Wednesday as the “only threat to the region” and rejected the description of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and Taiwan’s defending of its sovereignty as “provocative and threatening.”

Speaking at a meeting of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce in Kaohsiung, Pompeo, who was invited to attend the annual gathering, said he saw some news media reports that described Pelosi’s visit as “provocative.”

“We’ve seen your president and others in your country here in Taiwan, talk about basic rights to defend their own sovereignty and make decisions for themselves,” he said.

VP Kamala Harris expresses support for Taiwan, torches China while addressing Navy sailors in Japan

Andrea Vacchiano, Fox News

Vice President Kamala Harris made blistering remarks against China during a speech in Yokosuka, Japan, while professing support for Taiwan’s self-defense.


Harris accused the Asian superpower of “undermining” international rules-based order with its acts of aggression against Taiwan. “China has challenged freedom of the seas. China has flexed its military and economic might to coerce and intimidate its neighbors,” the vice president said.

Biden Must Deter China

Robert B. Charles, AMAC

Storm clouds are gathering. China has a plan for Taiwan, likely isolating and declaring “one country, two systems,” as in Hong Kong. Problem is, Taiwan is not interested, has had decades of de facto independence. Many in Congress, as well as Biden and Trump Administrations – think Taiwan is in danger. They are right. China must be deterred.


China wants to see how far the US will go to support Taiwan, since NATO doctrine in Europe limits how we support Ukraine to defeat Russian aggression. If offensive weapons are sent to Ukraine, that could trigger Article 5 – open a world war. For that reason, NATO has hedged bets defending Ukraine, offered defensive but not offense weapons.

In Asia, there is no NATO, no limits on US support. The SEATO treaty – South Asia Treaty Organization – died in 1977, two years before Jimmy Carter pushed the “Taiwan Relations Act,” which de-recognized Taiwan for Communist China.

This means that, in addition to defensive systems, the US could offer dual use or offensive systems to Taiwan. Australia and Japan would likely agree since Taiwan is their front yard.

Has Washington changed its tune on Taiwan?

Defence Connect

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been relentless in its efforts to supress the Taiwanese independence movement, with Beijing warning against symbolic or material support for Taipei from the international community.

However, these warnings have not been heeded, with the West, particularly the United States, openly condemning threats to Taiwanese sovereignty.

Washington has also continued to supply Taipei with advanced military equipment, supporting the modernisation of the island-democracy’s military.


[A]ccording to David Sacks, research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a more telling indication of a shift in US policy was President Biden’s comments on Taiwanese independence.

The President told media, “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence … that’s their decision.”

Sacks reflects on the strategies of previous administrations, which had emphatically opposed any push for Taiwan’s formal independence.