Who Won the Taiwan War Games?

After 19 hours in Taiwan, the speaker flew to South Korea, where her reception was described as “cool.” President Yoon Suk Yeol, though at home in Seoul when Pelosi arrived, did not meet with her, but instead held a 40-minute phone conversation. South Korea, like its neighbors, is anxious not to offend China.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied White House signals that she not stop in Taiwan on her valedictory tour of Asian capitals, she ignited the worst diplomatic U.S.-China row in decades.

And how did last week’s collision turn out for the United States?

Writes The New York Times:

Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan began with her “plane departing from Kuala Lumpur and heading southeast toward the Indonesian part of Borneo, then turning north to fly along the eastern part of the Philippines. A more direct — and shorter — route would have been to fly northeast in a direct route over the South China Sea to Taiwan.”

Pelosi’s avoidance of the South China Sea might have something to do with China’s claim to 90% of it and China’s control of islets in that sea that Beijing has converted into air, missile and naval bases.

After 19 hours in Taiwan, the speaker flew to South Korea, where her reception was described as “cool.” President Yoon Suk Yeol, though at home in Seoul when Pelosi arrived, did not meet with her, but instead held a 40-minute phone conversation.

South Korea, like its neighbors, is anxious not to offend China.

Consider this anomaly here:

South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand all rely on the United States as their No. 1 ally in defending them against China, but all boast of China as their No. 1 trading partner.

How did Beijing react to Pelosi’s 19 hours in Taiwan?

With warplanes, warships and ballistic missiles, China conducted live-fire exercises from Thursday noon to Sunday noon, at six sites surrounding Taiwan. One Chinese missile flew over Taiwan. Five landed in the exclusive economic zone of Japan.

The effect of these live firings at and around Taiwan was that of a naval quarantine or blockade. Ships and planes of other nations avoided air corridors and waters being targeted by Chinese forces.

China also announced diplomatic and economic sanctions against the U.S. and Taiwan, canceling talks with Washington on climate change and military relations.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was the triggering event that ignited the Chinese war games against Taiwan. But these air, naval and missile exercises were not planned in a day. They appear to have been prepared as a dress rehearsal for how China intends to go about bringing Taiwan home to the motherland, when President Xi Jinping decides the time is right.

Pelosi spent the rest of her trip insisting that her visit represented no change in U.S. policy on Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Pelosi reiterated, “Our representation here is not about changing the status quo,” adding that Beijing is “probably using our visit as an excuse.”

As the live firing went on for 72 hours, the White House echoed Pelosi that the U.S. recognizes Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a “part of China” and does not contest that claim. Nor have we any intention of shifting U.S. policy on Taiwan as it has been pursued since Jimmy Carter broke U.S. diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979.

Where was the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, then on Asian assignment during all this? Cruising in the Philippine Sea, not the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait or East China Sea, all claimed by Beijing.

What was the message sent and the message received from the war games with which China responded to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan?

From Beijing, the message sent to the U.S. was clear.

China regards Taiwan as its detached province. It will confront any power, including the United States, that is perceived to be challenging that political reality. It will respond to any Taiwanese move to establish its independence of Beijing as a casus belli, a justification for war.

The White House did not move any planes, ships or missiles to counter the Chinese live-fire exercises and, indeed, reassured Beijing repeatedly that Pelosi’s visit did not represent any change in U.S. policy.

It is hard to see how Asia’s free and democratic nations and U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Australia could not have taken away the conclusion that bristling Chinese aggressiveness had just been met by American passivity. Hawkish members of the Senate like Lindsey Graham appear to believe that.

Consider the path Beijing has lately pursued:

It has attacked and captured border lands in the Himalayas from India, claimed virtually the entire South China Sea, fortified half a dozen isles in that sea, claimed the Taiwan Strait as territorial waters, the transit of which by U.S. and allied warships requires China’s permission, claimed Taiwan as part of China, as well as the nearby Senkaku Islands held by Japan.

Now it has sent military aircraft and warships across the Taiwan Strait into and over the waters surrounding Taiwan and test-fired missiles and rockets to reenforce its claim to the island.

When 21st-century China stakes a claim to something in Asia, it backs up its claim with action. The trend is unmistakable and points to a future confrontation over Taiwan.

11 replies
  1. Curmudgeon
    Curmudgeon says:

    It seems that, like most others, Buchanan omits one vital piece of information: the Republic of China (Taiwan) claims to be the legitimate government of all China, which is the mirror image of the Peoples’ Republic of China laying claim to Taiwan. Until Taiwan renounces claim to “all China” and declares independence (which many non-Asian countries would recognize) no amount of media spin is going to change what was started by Obama, continued by Trump, and now Biden via Pelosi – poking your finger in China’s eye is not a good idea.
    As for invading Taiwan, Col. Douglas MacGregor has pointed out that during WWII, Japan held Taiwan, which was essentially an impregnable stationary aircraft carrier from which it launched invasions. There will be no invasion of Taiwan, the loss of life to the PCR would be horrific. The Chinese display was to demonstrate how easily it could enforce a blockade around Taiwan.

  2. conrad gaarder
    conrad gaarder says:

    Pat’s point? He is the one who has written article after article saying the US has no interest in that dispute.
    We are backing down, no question. But then, why should anyone expect anything different from a country run by people who have happily become Chinese junior management?
    Our relationship with these devils reminds me of the scene in The Sopranos when Carmela is talking to the psychiatrist about her marriage to Tony. The psychiatrist understands that Tony is an immoral killer, and tells Carmela she must take the children and leave.
    Carmela thinks, then says she has to get a lawyer; has to get alimony.
    The psychiatrist says “you’re not listening to me. You have to just leave. Now.”

    • Emicho
      Emicho says:

      Could you explain the Sopranos metaphor?

      Is Tony the Chinese and Carmella the Yanks? Are the children Taiwan?

      I don’t get it.

      • conrad gaarder
        conrad gaarder says:

        I was trying to say that the people of Taiwan deserve the support of the decent people of the world. But we will probably not defend them in the end, perhaps because we are no longer able to, but also because too many people here have too much money invested in the PRC.
        We should require American businesses to depart the PRC, but we are too much like Carmela.

      • Weaver
        Weaver says:

        Since it’s clear I’m not banned, I’ll write an interesting reply:

        Americans want the Chinese to serve American Jews; Chinese want Americans to serve the Chinese, instead.

        Anglos aren’t even at the table. We have no side there. No one of actual European descent has a side in this power struggle. We’re just the cows that produce the milk.

    • Pierre de Craon
      Pierre de Craon says:

      Pat’s point?

      It was made plain to Buchanan about twenty years ago that stating the obvious conclusions to be drawn from facts that were as plain as the nose on one’s face would be a course that he would be ill advised to take if he wanted to keep even a limited public foothold on the Jew-owned rock formerly known as the USA.

      Thus, here, as elsewhere and as usual, he spells out what he thinks that you, the reader, should be attending to. Then, as it were, having brought you to the sink, having turned on the faucet, and having handed you a glass, he lets you decide whether you wish to drink.

      Since, in this instance, you are quite correct in saying that Buchanan “has written article after article saying the US has no interest in that dispute,” the hidden message embedded in the water—which, I repeat, you can drink or decline to drink—is probably this: “I warned everyone in 1990 on the ‘McLaughlin Group’ that Capitol Hill was Israeli-occupied territory, and for my trouble all I got were slurs and insults. Now the same crowd runs the executive branch as well. Are you really surprised that their criminality, greed, incompetence, and sheer vulgarity have brought the world to the brink of nuclear war? And do you seriously think that a senile crime boss and a vain and foolish old woman would, at this late date, be inclined to put the welfare of millions before their own selfish yearning for one more turn in the spotlight?”

      I have reason to believe that Pat Buchanan holds out no hope for the survival of the United States as a nation recognizable to those who grew up when he, Kevin MacDonald, and I did—still less to those who engineered its independence and shepherded its development for the first fifty or so years of its existence. I certainly have none.

      • Weaver
        Weaver says:


        we can survive in some form only if we adapt, as the Parsis adapted to survive in India.

        Aristotle writes on how only those who were descended from citizens on both sides could become citizens, at times in Greek cities. Separately, the Amish have thrived and expanded, separately, as have the insane Mormons at times.

        All one needs to do is to reject classical liberalism, a false god that has cost those of British descent almost everything.

        • Pierre de Craon
          Pierre de Craon says:

          I am not a Parsi, and I have no intention of emulating one. No one I know would be so unprincipled or so foolish. Why would you even suggest such a thing?

          • Weaver
            Weaver says:

            Otherwise, the only option is moving somewhere no one wants to live, like Alaska. When I was younger, reading the option Aristotle offered was exciting. Learning how the Parsis preserved themselves was similarly so.

            I just don’t see a positive future in becoming so mixed. Americans won’t have enough distinction for a healthy identity. They’ll likely be treated like trash, unvalued.

            Whatever the case, I meant no disrespect to you.

    • Weaver
      Weaver says:


      What is the point of taking a stand in Taiwan? What is lost there?

      Why not focus on the US border instead?

  3. peter mcloughlin
    peter mcloughlin says:

    “The trend is unmistakable and points to a future confrontation over Taiwan.”
    A chilling final sentence. Certainly history and current events point to another world war; war between the US and China can be nothing else. The parties have to work harder, be more imaginative, if they want to defy the pattern of history and avoid the fate of all empires – the existential war they are clearly trying to avert: their own self-destruction.

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