Overplaying American interests in Taiwan reeks of familiar dangers - Brian Wilson

I’m still trying to work out what justification there was for Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. On the other hand, I can see several reasons why it was an exceptionally bad idea.

My interest in Taiwan, and a high degree of respect, goes back to when I became Scottish Industry Minister. There was a huge level of Taiwanese investment here and I went to meet some of our partners. I liked the place, the people and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Later, I co-chaired the UK-Taiwan Business Council. By then, Taiwanese investment – and there’s a lot of it – had switched mainly to China. Travel had opened up and while the proprieties of diplomacy continued, with no formal recognition for Taiwan, pragmatism had begun to prevail to mutual advantage.

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China will never drop its claim that the great defection to Taiwan in 1949 is unfinished business of the revolution with a parallel degree of apprehension and preparedness on the Taiwanese side of the Strait. But why inflame these tensions?

False comparators were too hastily drawn with Russia-Ukraine. If it could happen there, it could happen in Taiwan. Well, of course it could but probably it won’t. President Biden’s diplomatic focus is on deterring Chinese support for Russia in Ukraine. Did this visit help or hinder that objective?

The awfulness of Russian brutality has for the time being overshadowed questions about how over-assertive western policy in the post-Soviet republics helped to create the environment in which war could happen. Overplaying American interests and commitments in the delicate environment of Taiwan reeks of the same dangers.