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Minxin Pei

Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Is Only the Start of US Headaches

China can employ a vast range of gray-zone tactics to pressure the island, most of which Washington will find hard to counter without risking an open conflict.

Pelosi’s visit has caused an uproar.

Pelosi’s visit has caused an uproar.

Photographer: Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

To widespread relief, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taipei without incident on Aug. 2. Fears that the Chinese military might interfere with her flight, triggering a dangerous confrontation with the United States, did not materialize.

The challenge facing the US, however, has only just begun. In response to Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military announced a three-day military exercise in six areas close to Taiwan. Although this round of drills won’t start until noon on Aug. 4 —after Pelosi’s scheduled departure — it marks an unprecedented escalation of China’s military tactics in the Taiwan Strait.  Even a casual look at the areas designated as off-limits reveals that they simulate a naval blockade.