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Could China invade Taiwan in response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei?

While China has been conducted an array of military exercises close to the island, the chance of a Chinese invasion remains low.

Update:
While China has been conducted an array of military exercises close to the island, the chance of a Chinese invasion remains low.
JONATHAN ERNSTREUTERS

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has not been met kindly by the Chinese government. In response to her visit, to what the Chinese see as their rightful territory, the Chinese have conducted military drills in the nearby South China Sea.

Taiwan said China launched 11 ballistic missiles into water around Taiwan’s north-east and south-west coasts. Japan said five Chinese missiles landed in its waters too, calling for an “immediate stop” to the exercise. The G7, the group of seven of the world’s developed economies, issued a joint statement marking their “concern by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation.”

China responded throught its Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He said the G7, “groundlessly criticises China for taking such measures, which are reasonable and legitimate steps to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” While Taiwan is nominally independent, in international law it remains a part of China.

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How much of an escalation is this?

China regularly postures over its much smaller neighbour. There is no secret that the PRC wants reunification with Taiwan; by law they remain locked in civil war that has been waged since 1927. Speaking at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the final imperial dysnaty in China, the Qing, PRC President Xi Jinping said, “The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.”

Testing the waters, so to speak, is nothing unusual. Whether unification will be conducted peacefully, militarily, or not at all remains for the future to hold. A visit from Nancy Pelosi may induce the anger of the PRC but it is very unlikely to lead to war.

Furthermore, Chinese invasion is unlikely due to the role the US plays in Taiwanese defence. The United States has long said that while it can agree to the One China Principle, it will not accept violence or aggression towards Taiwan during any sort of unificatory plans by Mainland China. It has funded Taiwanese armament in the last half-century and is in the process of another hundred million dollar arms deal at present.

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