Pelosy’s visit to Taiwan and the decline of American empire

August 2, 2022, was a day that the United States decided to venture into yet another lane of hypocrisy and provocation of a nuclear power, the People’s Republic of China. In its foreign policy, China has made it clear to uphold the One-China Policy which is accepted by the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organisations including the United States. The fact that the United States is gradually losing global influence, it resorts to blame game, especially as we saw during the hey days of the COVID-19, we see the United States creating tension all over the world, particularly the war in Ukraine which the Europeans naively seemed gravitated by the U.S. under the so called Trans-Atlantic collective security. Today, the Europeans are bearing the consequences, Ukrainians are dying and the United States destabilising. Nancy Pelosy’s visit to Taiwan is a provocation against the peaceful China; an act of diplomatic hypocrisy; destabilising mission and a way to create disharmony in Asia and around the world and this can be discerned through historical records.

In early December 2016, Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, spoke with Donald Trump, breaking decades of US diplomatic protocol. The United States government had in 1979 derecognised Taiwan or the Republic of China and recognised the Peoples Republic of China as the sole legal government of China in what is now known to be the One China Policy. The controversy dates back to 1949, when the victorious Communists established the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, and the defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan where they continued to claim sovereignty over all of China. The victory of the Communist Party saw President Nixon and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung in 1972 agreed to endorse the One-China policy in the Shanghai communiqué, issued jointly with the People’s Republic. The communiqué stated that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China.

The seeming inconsistence present today exists because while the U.S. officially adheres to the One-China policy, it practices a de facto Two-China policy. Historically, Taiwan was first occupied by the Austronesian tribal people, who are thought to have come from what is known as Southern China. It was a Dutch colony for a short while from 1624-1661, until the Qing dynasty which ruled Taiwan from 1683 to 1895. This rule was cut short when the Qing government had to give Taiwan to the Japanese as an effect of losing the 1895 war. China was however reunified in 1928, but without the territories lost to Japan. Since this reunification, most of mainland China was governed by the Republic of China (ROC). The defeat of the Axis powers after the Second World War saw Japan relinquish “all rights, title and claims to Formosa and the Pescadores (Taiwan) in the San Francisco Treaty of Peace of 1951.

In 1949, the ongoing struggle between the Nationalist Republic of China and the Communist party escalated into a civil war which saw China and the government (ROC) lost control of mainland China to the Communist Party, which established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and took control of all of mainland China. In 1971, via UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, China’s representation was replaced by the PRC. This changed the world view and now when we say “China” we refer to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Republic of China (ROC) is considered to be Taiwan. In the 1992 consensus, both governments agreed that there is only one “China” but each claimed to be the sole representative of the sovereignty of undivided China.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is responsible for implementing U.S. policy toward Taiwan. In the same year, 1979, the United States passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which guarantees support for the island. Although the PRC demanding the US recognize its sovereignty over Taiwan, Washington instead acknowledged the Chinese position that Taiwan was part of China and mostly for geopolitical reasons; both the United States and the PRC were willing to go forward with diplomatic recognition despite their differences on this matter. To this day, the U.S. “one China” position stands: The United States recognizes the PRC as the sole legal government of China but only acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.

Thus, the United States maintains formal relations with the PRC and has unofficial relations with Taiwan.Pelosys’s visit has violated the One-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-U.S. joint communique, which gravely undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This is a miscalculation and from the trajectories, the united states failed in Iraq, withdraw from Afghanistan, ran out of Vietnam withdrew from Syria and initially sent a signal it could fight the war for Ukraine, but strategically left the Ukrainian people suffering and their European so called partners. What assurances does Taiwan have that it could be utterly salvaged by the united states from a great and nuclear power like China?

This sounds rather rhetorical and is always history that repeats itself.It is a dangerous geopolitical strategy to adopt double standards especially in dealing with strong entities like China for whatever gains as the end results might not be good to no one. The United states thought it could bully Russia on Ukraine and Russia is standing toll gaining grounds. The prediction of a war is never definitive as if you start a war you do not know when to stop it. The United States accept the One-China policy, on the contrary, perpetuates its efforts in arming separatist movement in Taiwan. This is a move even the United States would not accept. This might also be a weapon to contain China in its support for Russia against Ukraine as it is obvious that China is not in support of sanctions and it has been calling for peaceful resolution of the conflict by not siding with U.S. expectations.What the United States should understand and respect is that it is the firm will of the Chinese government and over 1.4 billion people to resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and any attempt to obstruct China’s complete reunification and great national rejuvenation is doomed to fail. The united states should also understand and respect the fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.

The One China principle is a widely recognised norm of international relations and a consensus accepted by the international community. The Taiwan question is an internal affair and allows no external interference. If for the purpose of separation of powers, the American president could not stop Pelosy’s visit to Taiwan, it is conspicuous that the congress ratifies for the United States to go or not go to war. Not all congressional decisions are good and fruitful for the United States and there is no decision against China on Taiwan that will benefit the United States, allies or the whole world, but rather opens up a new frontline of Cold War, military confrontation and destabilisation of the world system. This is one of the many reasons nations and states prefer China’s global leadership for its non-interference in the internal affairs of states and policies of peaceful coexistence among states. If pundits may ponder and readers reason, what was the benefit of American intervention in Iraq? What was the Benefit in Afghanistan? What was the benefit in Vietnam and what is the benefit in Ukraine? It is all fiasco and catastrophe!

Global leadership should be fixated on shared future for mankind not war; not unhealthy competition and bellicosity; not for hegemony and rancour among trading partners! The United States should be able to understand that the fear of a decline by the United States has caused China-phobia to the government and people of the strongest state on earth, but the reality is that, no state or nation has been so powerful and continues to be in the political history of the world. The United States emerged a super power with the collapse of the Soviet Union, merely three decades ago. One major fact remains that stupendous empires such as the Roman Empire had ruled and reigned for about 500 years and it has ended in ruins.The Assyrian Empire is one significant epitome to consider in this analogy. The greatest Mesopotamian Empire was the Assyrian Empire which covered the modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and later expanded to the Gulf and Northern Africa. It is known as the Iron Age Empire which reigned for about 300 years. This great empire collapsed due to “political unrest, civil war, overpopulation and climate change.”

The Ottoman Empire also reigned between 14th and early 20th centuries and ruled over the territories of south-eastern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa for more than 600 years. One major factor that led to the decline of the Ottoman Empire was war and alliance. It fought alongside the central powers in the First World War camping with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This war alliance was defeated in 1918. Secondly, Turkey was declared a republic in 1923 and the sultanate eliminated by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. There is also a sign of what happened to the Ottoman Empire to affect the American empire as it is well known of forming coalition forces especially as did in the Iraqi war, Afghanistan and the call to fight Iran. It might be in this kind of alliance for war that the American empire might fall or decline. In a research conducted in 2009 by Pew Research Centre, findings show that about 15 out of 22 countries accepted the fact that China will be the next global leading power in the nearest future, due to its rapid economic growth and spreading influence across the globe. One major observation made by the Chinese themselves, especially as made by a Chinese foreign policy adviser Wang Jisi is that, the American super power status is really declining.

These are some of the reasons the plan to create disharmony for China, which will not succeed. It is notable that the gradual decline of American empire is not a myth, but a reality. Going by the naturality of the rise and fall of states and empires, a declining empire is not to fight the rising one for such would serve as a fertilising process for the rapid emergence of the new empire. The American empire is not the first to decline, for others have risen and declined centuries ago. Cooperation in production, political relations and global security is what should be the priority not engaging in an unwanted struggle and conspiracy that may not produce fruitful outcome, but affect the parties involved and the global community.

Ibrahim is an associate professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, Nigeria. He writes via [email protected]

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