Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan: Feedback from the Middle East
by Yuriy Zinin on 18 Aug 2022 0 Comment

The visit of US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan was met with bewilderment and wariness in the Middle East media. This is evidenced, in particular, by the headline comments on the subject: “Taiwan after Ukraine on the American chessboard”, “Controversial visit”, “Why provoke China?”, etc.


What is the use and point for the US to taunt China while America itself is preoccupied with events in Ukraine and dangerous tensions with Russia, the influential Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat asks. Why did the speaker of the House of Representatives choose this particular moment to voyage, if its clear benefits are not visible, but the risks are easy to see?


The forceful escalation raised on all sides over this visit, the Emirati body summarizes, is fraught with a verbal war and war of mutual threats. Is the visit a trial balloon to be followed by other steps towards escalating tensions between the US and China? After all, this move has the potential to set off an explosive situation in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basin area.


Against the backdrop of Pelosi’s initiative, Middle Eastern analysts turned to US-China relations and their role in the global balance of power, recalling their historical background. In the era of the socialist camp, the course was taken to separate the Chinese giant from the USSR (both occupied the same ideological niche at that time). The West promoted the building up of power and modernization of the Celestial Empire.


But over time, it has not only caught up with the industrialized world in terms of development, but has also come out on top in a number of important global indicators.  China now rivals America in economic leadership and the military sphere, showing its muscle and influence in different parts of the world.


The West, local commentators conclude, seems to have woken up and begun to react by adopting a policy of containment of Beijing, painting it as an adversary, a source of threats in various areas. It can be argued that there is a so-called “China complex”, which is somehow characteristic of Western foreign policy attitudes.


According to the newspaper Al Jazeera, China’s presence in the Middle East, including the Gulf region, is growing in spite of US concerns. Gulf countries’ trade with Beijing reached $190 billion in 2019. In 2020, China became the largest commercial partner of these Arab monarchies. Economic relations between the two sides have deepened considerably in recent years with the accession of these Arab countries to China’s the Belt and Road Initiative.


These countries see the development of their relations with Beijing as a factor in easing US-Western pressure on them and curbing the administration’s behaviour which it has exhibited since the start of President Biden’s rule.


As for human rights and freedoms issues, both sides are opposed to using certain issues as a pretext for external interference in each other’s internal affairs. In fact, there is no coverage in the Middle East media of any support or justification for Pelosi’s trip or the US line. The Omani newspaper Alwatan sees it as a signal to the US to do something to spite Beijing, with the hope of stalling its activity in favour of Russia, or simply to force it to be neutral in the matter. The PRC is well aware of what Washington is up to.


China acts calmly, logically, with great patience. He has long been exploring the possibility of reclaiming Taiwan peacefully or militarily. It is a mistake to assume that China is the loser in this case. All sorts of scenarios remain open and the future will show the consequences of a perturbation that could happen in both the US and Taiwan, the region believes.


The Lebanese newspaper Al Mayadeen stresses that China has highlighted to everyone the responsibility of the US for its actions, shaking the credibility of Washington’s repeated official statements that it respects the principles of a united China. Pelosi’s trip has provided China with the justification for its actions it has been waiting for years.


Moreover, its effect was to play into the hands of the People’s China leadership. According to analysts, this refers to the current within the CCP, which is betting on the country’s development along the path of patriotic choice. And vice versa – the visit greatly weakened the direction calling for “harmonizing relations with Washington and refusing to compete” with it in various areas.


On the other hand, there is no evidence that Pelosi’s initiative contributed to the Democratic Party’s designs for the November mid-term congressional elections, often described as a referendum to evaluate the performance of the current administration. Obviously, the average voter is more concerned with day-to-day issues than with the heroic exploits of the US House of Representatives speaker.


Observers trace the echoes of this visit not only for the relations between Beijing and Washington, but also for the situation globally. According to prominent Egyptian diplomat and media personality D. Matar, it is difficult to understand Pelosi’s motives in visiting Taiwan. China-US relations are fast moving towards a state of acute crisis, to the frontiers beyond which dangerous consequences loom.


The reality is that the US has not achieved victory over Russia in the Ukraine crisis. Moscow, as local analysts are increasingly inclined to believe, has gradually expanded spatially in Ukraine. Its influence has increased in most developing countries. US allies in Europe and beyond are experiencing large economic losses from the sanctions, which were originally aimed at Russia.


President Biden’s provocative line towards the PRC, against the backdrop of the prevailing hostility between Russia and the US, similar to that of the Cold War, could be described as foolish. It pushes China to strengthen relations with Moscow, which is to its advantage, the researcher from Lebanon concludes.


Yury Zinin, a senior researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies of Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Courtesy


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