House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and a delegation of US lawmakers visited Taipei this week as a gesture of reassurance — “to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon Taiwan.” If the US wants to preserve the fragile status quo in the Taiwan Strait going forward, it would be better off saying less and doing more.
The debate over Pelosi’s trip will continue for weeks if not longer. The visit enraged Chinese leaders, who saw it as part of a recent pattern of actions and statements designed to erode the understandings that have guided the US approach to Taiwan for the past half-century. China retaliated by launching a series of missile tests and three days of live-fire military exercises in the seas surrounding the island. The goal was clearly to illustrate how easily China could blockade Taiwan and cripple its export-dependent economy.