US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years—drawing expected criticism from China, which immediately engaged in saber rattling including military drills and missile tests near the island democracy. While the Biden administration has sought to tamp down any tension over the visit, Taiwan remains one of the most sensitive issues between the two nuclear powers. And though the White House maintains the US position of so-called strategic ambiguity, President Joe Biden has said he would defend Taiwan in an attack by China. What he meant by that however remains, well, ambiguous. In China, the Communist Party continues to tighten its grip under Xi Jinping, notably crushing civil liberties in Hong Kong and aligning itself closely with other authoritarian states such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Pelosi, who has assailed Beijing for years over its human rights record, didn’t do much on Tuesday to assuage anyone there, saying her visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”
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