The fallout from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) controversial and highly publicized visit to Taiwan on Tuesday is being felt by countries and businesses around the world as tensions rise amid the prospect of a world war.
China issued several warnings in the weeks leading up to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which the communist country strongly condemned.
Last week, China’s President Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden during a historic two-hour phone call that “those who play with fire will only get burned,” referring to potential US support for the island’s independence.
Although the speaker’s trip to Taiwan lasted less than a day, it drew strong reactions from countries around the world who understood the geopolitical impact of having one of the United States’ most senior officials visit the island and pledge its support to Taiwan’s democracy remained “iron clad”.
Pelosi reiterated her commitment under her visit to Japan on Thursday, where she stated during a news conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo that China “may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating elsewhere,” but it would “not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there.”
“We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan,” she stressed.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China released a announcement announces sanctions against House Speaker Pelosi.
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“Taking into account China’s serious concerns and steadfast opposition, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting China’s Taiwan region,” it read. “This constitutes gross interference in China’s internal affairs. It seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and seriously threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. In response to Pelosi’s fierce provocation, China decides to adopt sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family members in accordance with relevant laws of the People’s Republic of China.”
China has increased its military presence in the area since Pelosi’s visit and has sent a record number of planes to the median line that runs down the Taiwan Strait on Friday.
“[We] condemn the Communist military for deliberately crossing the median line of the strait and harassing the sea and air around Taiwan,” Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in its latest statement after Beijing’s deployment. 68 Chinese fighter planes and 13 warships in the area that day.
China also announced that the country would be stop the dialogue with the US in several areas, including between military commanders at the theater level and regarding the climate crisis.
Despite the aggressive rhetoric and military responses from China, Wu’er Kaixi, who was a former student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests in China, told Reuters in an interview that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a clear gain for the island and that it was not as threatening to relations with China as expected.
“Nancy Pelosi came to Taiwan in such a high profile, made sure the whole world saw her and then made sure the US military, regional defense force all came forward and said we will die to protect our speaker,” Wu explained ‘eh.
“The whole world saw the US change. What was China’s response to that? Military exercise; nothing they haven’t done before.”
Wu’er added that although the military exercises are on a “more terrifying scale,” they are nevertheless just exercises and there is no “imminent military threat.”
The 1,000 missiles currently aimed at Taiwan are nothing new, Wu’er concluded, reminding viewers that it has been this way for the past three decades.
Companies are exercising caution
The previous Tiananmen Square the protest leader’s views were not shared by all, as other countries and companies took extra precautions to avoid creating more drama around the delicate issue.
On Friday, the technology giant Apple told its suppliers that strictly adhere to of Chinese customs regulations, that parts from Taiwan be labeled as manufactured in either “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei.”
In another case, the food company Mars Wrigley apologized on Friday for its latest Snicker bar ad, which counted Taiwan as a country.
While promoting a limited edition Snickers bar, the video stated that the product was only available in the “countries” of South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Mars Wrigley issued a statement of apology on its Snickers China Weibo account, saying the relevant material had been changed:
“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts its business activities in strict accordance with local Chinese laws and regulations.”
Some Chinese netizens were unhappy with the apology, however, angry that the company’s statement did not explicitly claim that Taiwan was part of China.
“Say it: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory!” wrote a user whose comment has received over 8,000 likes.
In response to China’s increasingly aggressive military exercises, Taiwan and its people have also intervened.
On August 5, Taiwanese microchip magnate Robert Tsao, 75, pledged to 100 million dollars to Taiwan’s defense department after China launched an aggressive series of missile exercises the day before.
During a press conference, Tsao urged Taiwanese residents to “see through the evil nature of the Chinese Communist Party,” according to Taiwan News.
Tsao’s two sons, one of whom has recently completed his mandatory military training and another who will be training this coming summer vacation, would both fight in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) should China invade Taiwan.
Japan has also been on high alert after five Chinese ballistic missiles landed in the waters near Japan’s southwestern islands on Thursday, the closest of which landed about 80 kilometers north-northwest of Yonaguni Island, which is in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
With a population of around 1,700, the residents of Yonaguni fear their homes could be on the front lines of the conflict and become the target of an attack.
“During the Vietnam War, boat people came here,” explained Ryuichi Ikema, director of a history museum on the island. “In the event of a Taiwanese emergency, millions of Taiwanese could come here. We are the closest island, and I wonder: how can we handle it?
While it is unclear whether tensions between the US, Taiwan and China will rise, the conflict is not isolated between the three and will have long-term implications for the bigger geopolitical picture.