Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan despite warnings from various corners has catalysed the situation in Asia Pacific and with it has boosted the purpose of Quad and AUKUS. Although, the US administration also cautioned the Speaker to refrain from this visit yet they have been observed justifying it somehow. It appears that the visit was supported by the administration in an attempt to fortify relevance of its Indo Pacific strategy against China.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi defying the gravity of situation visited Taiwan and has been defending her visit since then to be in line with the stated US policy. She has in fact also defied the US stated policy which always affirmed One China policy. China has rebuked her visit in a strong manner. Post her visit, China commenced military drills unprecedentedly close to the mainland Taiwan and fired artillery which overflew Taiwan. These exercises have been breaching 12 NM of territorial waters that every coastal state is entitled to. Earlier, the Chinese fighter jets entered Taiwanese ADIZ. Taiwan has strongly protested the Chinese acts and has in fact commenced its own exercises justifying it as a self-defence measure. Substantiated by US further is the recent visit of its lawmaker’s delegation visit to Taiwan to extend their support to the country and “encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait” as stated in official proclamation. This has exasperated China and it has announced another round of extensive military drills in the wake of this visit. It seems that US is enticing China and its arms sell will increase in the region but forgetting they are triggering from the wrong end.
China has signalled both politically and militarily very clearly that Taiwan is an integral part of China and the territorial integrity that Taiwan claims isn’t separate from that of China’s. The Asia Pacific region that has so far been peaceful is getting into turmoil. In my previous discourse, I have stressed that Chinese politico-economic influence is likely to be countered by the US chiefly with a politico-military strategy. And there is a reason for that. Although Chinese armed forces are advancing rapidly still these are considered lagging behind the US military in technology and war experience. The US perceives that with its support to the allies, the US will be able to bleed China enough to retard her advancement at a pace it is currently maintaining.
Chinese are known for their strategic patience and the Americans for their haste. George Friedman in his book ‘The Next 100 Years’ has asserted that the ultimate objective of any Super Power is to maintain status quo. And in that pursuit wherever it finds any potential challenger it just destabilises it. Needless to highlight here, the US sees China as the potential challenger and is trying to destabilise it by dragging it into an armed conflict.
This is a twofold smart move by the US. One, just as in the case of erstwhile USSR and Russia, the US will like China also to get into confrontation with an ally but not directly with the US so that the US economy isn’t hurt. Instead, it is boosted with the sale of military products to Taiwan, Japan, Australia, India and the likes. Second, since the region will face troubled waters it will sell the US Indo Pacific strategy in a more logical as well as expeditious manner. In near future, the US Indo-Pacific strategy is therefore likely to gain more traction and the arrangements secured within its ambit such as Quad and AUKUS are envisaged to become more active. The US will like to deepen its cooperation with the allies and efforts will be expedited to squeeze space for China not only in Asia-Pacific but elsewhere also. This is alarming for Pakistan as our arch rival India is symbolized as the net security provider and a bulwark against China in Indian Ocean. Capacity enhancement of India in any way is certainly going to affect Pakistan.
The deteriorating situation in Asia-Pacific that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has created will be pacified in sometime. But this was a feeler from the US to test Chinese strategic patience and resolve for defending its territorial integrity. China has demonstrated its red lines with respect to Taiwan issue. It has also signalled to the US that an armed conflict is a possibility if China’s territorial integrity is challenged. This is a suitable outcome for the US who may now formulate a strategy to drag China one way or the other into an armed conflict. The Chinese interests around the world are therefore going to be targeted and CPEC is not an exception.
Pakistan enjoys good relations with both China and the US. We therefore have an edge of acting like a bridge between both instead of siding totally with one. While we must condemn any move against China’s territorial integrity we must also offer our services to defuse tension between our friends. This way we will not only help the US and China understand each other but we shall also be able to put across our concerns about India. Similarly, Pakistan has to coordinate closely with the regional countries and foster more goodwill with them to depreciate Indian influence as much as possible in the region.