View from Kaohsiung: Pelosi visit will benefit Taiwan in the long term – Taiwan News | Hot Mobile Press

KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan was welcomed here in Kaohsiung, as it was across the country.


“Of course she should come here, everyone is welcome in Taiwan,” said an elderly lady who worked at an evening market.


“The US is our friend and its representatives will always be welcome here,” a student at Kaohsiung Normal University told me.


The mood on the streets of Kaohsiung was remarkably calm, despite the hysteria we’re seeing in the media. This may be hard to believe when you look at the English-language press.


The media in Britain, where I come from, has been among the worst, accusing Pelosi of stoking cross-strait tensions rather than criticizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its absurd overreaction. Meanwhile, the notorious British tabloids have essentially done the CCP’s work for them, and the declaration of World War III is within reach.


Talking to people at home, it’s hard to believe that people are still at work here, the kids are in school, the malls are busy, and traffic is still clogging the streets. In fact, if you didn’t read the media, you would have no way of knowing that the CPC military exercises were underway just a few nautical miles south of here.


Six target zones


Analysis of the cards Documents released by the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) show that the largest of its six target zones is directly south and west of Kaohsiung, and even closer to settlements like Donggang and Kenting.


Southern Taiwan also appears to be where the test zones are closest to settled areas, with the tiny island of Xiao Liuqiu just 9.5 kilometers away. It’s fair to say that people don’t make too much of a fuss there either a US citizen Noting his closeness to the live-fire drills on Twitter, he added, “I support the right of American politicians to travel wherever they choose.”


Is this serenity and stoicism naive? Perhaps, but barring unintentional errors by PLA staff, the general consensus seems to be that these exercises will pass without incident.


Nonetheless, there is no denying that China’s unilateral act of aggression represents a cross-strait shift of the delicate status quo. Despite inevitable comparisons, it’s not the same as previous exercises in 1996.


New precedents


This time the zones are larger, closer to Taiwan, and in addition to PLA jets crossing the centerline, there are also reports of PLA drones overland at Kinmen and Chinese missiles crossing mainland Taiwan, albeit at high altitude .


Such shifts in activity have the potential to set new precedents and increase the likelihood that such activities will become the norm.


For Kaohsiung, a strategically and economically important port city, the escalation increases the risk as the city and its port are likely to be important targets for the PLA if this incident escalates into a conflict.


Of course, Chinese aggression is unacceptable to Taiwan and should be unacceptable to the rest of the democratic world. Outside of Taiwan, the decision appears to be on hold at this point, as the G7 issue a brief statement urging restraint and de-escalation, but little more.


This will be music to the CCP’s ears as it is likely to be interpreted as a sign that the West will not intervene in a future invasion. The reality is that these exercises probably amount to nothing more than a particularly loud saber-rattling.


Fortunately, Taiwan also seems willing to let this incident happen rather than trying to get involved unnecessarily, which is undoubtedly the right decision.


How China really is


We should of course keep in mind that this is still in its infancy. These exercises may be scheduled for only three days, but the previous cross-strait crisis in the mid-1990s lasted almost nine months. The CCP’s rhetoric suggests that more action, both military and economic, is imminent.


Still, when you tell this to the people of Kaohsiung, they remain optimistic.


A middle-aged man eating at a noodle bar said he remembered rockets landing near Kaohsiung before the 1996 election. “That’s why I voted for Lee (Teng-hui (李登輝)), and that’s why we have everything we do today.”


His wife added: “In the end, this will show the world what China is really like. We already know, now they will too.”


The consensus here is that China committed a strategic misstep in overreacting so dramatically to Pelosi’s visit, and Taiwan will benefit in the long run. Whether that is the case remains to be seen.

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