The recent visit to Taiwan by the United States politician Nancy Pelosi was one of the most ill-judged and provocative actions by a US politician for some considerable time. The fact that the United States President Joe Biden refused the opportunity to forbid the visit also speaks volumes about the US attitude toward Taiwan and more particularly to Chinese sensitivities on the issue.
It is worth remembering the relevant history here. When the Nationalists were expelled from the Chinese mainland by the Communist Party victory in 1949 they did not give up their seat on their United Nations Security Council. That continued until 1972 when the United Nations finally voted to give China’s seat on the Security Council to the Peoples Republic of China and expel the Taiwanese from their pretence of representing “China.”
Importantly, the Taiwanese did not regard themselves as and independent and separate country, but were happy to maintain the fiction that they represented “China.” Ever since, the expulsion of the Taiwan government from the United Nations the United States has maintained an ambivalent attitude to the actual status of Taiwan. On the one hand they hold the official position that there is one China. On the other hand they treat Taiwan as a separate country, maintaining diplomatic representation on the island, albeit under a different title.
The United States President Joe Biden recently made remarks suggestive of the fact that in the event where the PRC attacked Taiwan as part of the reunification policy, then the island would be defended by the United States. It was a comment that caused some consternation in official United States circles who have sought for a long time to maintain a strategic ambivalence toward the actual United States position.
That pretence can no longer be maintained. The visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has had a number of consequences. First, it has removed much of the United States’ ambiguity toward the status of Taiwan viz a viz the United States attitude toward China. The pretence of one country, two systems, can no longer be realistically maintained.
The Chinese government’s reaction was entirely predictable, although that did not stop large sections of the United States media hyperventilating about the possible Chinese reaction to the visit. This included alarmist statements about Pelosi’s plane either being shot down or forced to land in China, making her a hostage of Chinese anger.
The overreaction of the United States media to the visit was typical of much of their attitude to China reflected on an almost daily basis in their mainstream media. That attitude is a mixture of ignorance and hostility. Ignorance about Chinese motivation and actions on a wide range of areas is rife. This is often most apparent in the treatment of China’s economic dominance in the world economy.
The United States media still persist in referring to China as the world’s second largest economy, although the truth of the matter is that China passed the United States in terms of real economic power some years ago and has been steadily increasing that advantage ever since.
The other area where the economic affluence of China is most obviously dominant is in its leadership in a number of major economic developments. These include the Belt and Road Initiative which now has more than 145 countries participating. There is nothing remotely comparable in the western alliance of countries that now represent a shrinking proportion of the world’s economy.
Another grouping that is growing in size and influence is the BRICS grouping, originally consisting of the five countries that comprise the acronym of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but has recently shown a marked increase in the number of countries expressing a desire to become part of the wider BRICS+ arrangement. These include countries from South America, Africa and the Middle East.
Two of these countries are Saudi Arabia and Iran which are showing an increasingly warmer relationship. A major motivation of United States President Biden’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia was to persuade the Saudis from any association with Iran, which continues as the United States’ major opponent in the Middle East. That Biden’s visit was a spectacular failure barely registered in the western media. The growing relationship between the Saudis and the Iranians is however one of the most significant geopolitical developments for several decades.
The other country of major interest wishing to join the BRICS grouping is Turkey. Turkey’s application to join BRICS+ marks a major milestone in that country’s increasing disenchantment with the NATO organisation of which it remains a nominal member. Turkey is also showing signs of disenchantment with other western initiatives.
This is most notable in Turkey’s view of Russia with whom it is forging ever closer ties. Putin was recently in Istanbul and it is clear that he and Erdogan are finding much in common cause. This is not to say that there are still some difficult points in the relationship. First among these must be Turkey’s involvement in Syria where Turkish troops are openly fighting the Kurdish rebels. The fact that the Kurds are supported by the Americans does nothing to enhance United States-Turkish relations.
The other major source of potential conflict is the continued presence of United States troops in Syria. This presence is completely ignored by the western media who continue to show a remarkable capacity for selective anger. It is worse than just the continued occupation of Syrian territories by the Americans. They are actively stealing Syria’s oil reserves and have shown absolutely no interest in compensating the Syrians for this ongoing theft of Syrian resources.
The Americans show a similar degree of imperviousness to Iraqi protests about their continued presence of Iraqi soil. That invasion is know more than 20 years old. The Americans simply ignored an Iraqi demand that they should leave. It needs to be pointed out that the Australians also continue to occupy Iraqi territory and, taking their cue again from the Americans, have similarly refused to vacate Iraqi territory despite Iraqi demands that they should do so.
One has only to contrast the United States attitude, and that of its western allies, to the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory (which has a vastly greater legitimate basis) with the attitude of those same allies to the United States occupation of Iraq and Syria to draw the obvious conclusion. When something is done by their forces it is somehow all right. When done by one of its political opponents there can never be any justification. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
There are many such examples. The United States continues to occupy the Guantanamo Bay Area of Cuba for which they claim some obscure justification. Yet at the same time the country of Cuba is subject to continued United States sanctions which have been in place now for more than 60 years. Again, the hypocrisy is breathtaking.
It would be naïve to expect any substantial changes in United States conduct or attitudes, although there are increasing signs that they are leases and less able to impose their view on the majority of the world’s nations. It is a trend not before time and one sincerely hopes that the world is at last beginning to see the end of United States dominance.