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() — Following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, host Leland Vittert — a foreign policy expert — joined “Rush Hour” to give his predictions of what implications may come.
Vittert began by nodding to the Speaker’s history on this front. Pelosi has long challenged China on human rights, including traveling to Tiananmen Square in 1991, two years after China crushed a wave of democracy protests.
“In fairness to Speaker Pelosi, she has been confronting communism in Beijing for 30 years. She went to Tiananmen Square, unfurled a banner there a year after the democracy protest, really sticking a needle in the eye of the Communist,” Leland said Tuesday.
“So this is a longstanding view of hers about confronting China over Taiwan — there is a lot of Taiwanese in her district, so a lot of points here for her,” he continued.
The trip is about more than global diplomacy between the U.S. and China. Rather, it’s a part of a broader mission at a time when “the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” as Pelosi stated in a statement upon arrival in Taiwan on Tuesday.
Her visit comes after she led a congressional delegation to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the spring, and it serves as a capstone to her many years of promoting democracy abroad.
However, shortly following her arrival to the island territory, the Chinese military began “targeted military operations” in response. According to Xinhua, a state news agency, such operations included live-firing drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Aug. 4 to Aug. 7.
Separately, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said it will conduct joint military operations near Taiwan beginning Tuesday night.
Leland spoke on the rhetoric coming out of Beijing and the broader implications of Pelosi’s visiting by comparing her visit with that of the last ranking member to visist the region.
While the aggression from China is similar to what then-Speaker Newt Gingrich experienced in 1997 — where, just a year earlier in 1996, the Chinese military had gotten aggressive and stared firing missiles at Taiwan — Leland reminds us that China’s military was quite inferior back then.
“The U.S. was the unquestioned military superpower and China’s military just didn’t stand a chance. So they backed down,” Leland explained. “That’s no longer the case and it’s no surprise a couple of weeks ago, the Chinese fired some of their hypersonic missiles again,” Leland continued.