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Nan­cy Pelosi’s vis­it to Tai­wan will not trig­ger World War III

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After weeks of intense speculation and sabre-rattling, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is reportedly set to visit the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The top US legislator did not put Taiwan in her official Asia tour itinerary, which kickstarted with visits to Singapore and Malaysia.

Recent reports suggest that Pelosi will visit Taiwan before heading to Northeast Asia, but the duration and nature of her visit are still a mystery. No one knows for sure whether the speaker will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen or any other top local official as other senior US officials did during their recent visits to the island.

The last time a US House speaker visited Taipei was in 1997, when Representative Newt Gingrich sought to show solidarity and support for the self-ruling democracy following the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, which saw both Washington and Beijing flexing military muscle in the area. This time, Pelosi will be visiting the island amid an ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has drawn many ominous comparisons with the situation in Taiwan.

Many fear that the US House speaker’s visit will exacerbate the crisis. After all, China considers the self-ruling island a “renegade province” that should eventually be fully reintegrated into the mainland. And the Asian powerhouse is increasingly worried about Washington’s expanding diplomatic and military support to Taiwan.

On July 25, China’s foreign ministry warned that a potential visit by Pelosi would result in “serious consequences” for which the US would need to assume full responsibility. A few days later, on July 28, in a much-anticipated phone conversation with US President Joseph Biden, China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping repeated the warning, and cautioned Washington against “play[ing] with fire”. Just yesterday, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, yet again described Pelosi’s expected visit as “dangerous” and “provocative”, and said it will be met with “firm and strong measures to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Accordingly, both the US and Chinese armed forces have taken preparatory measures ahead of the visit.

Now there are growing worries that in the coming days and weeks we may see a significant escalation in the ongoing rivalry between the US and China, with several commentators warning that the House speaker’s visit may even trigger a large-scale military confrontation.

So how did the situation get here, and what........

© Al Jazeera

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