Mark Wauck: "So, don’t think those sanctions aren’t the first thing on the list if China over-reacts to any future provocation. In fact, I’d wager good money that getting those sanctions in place aren’t the whole point of this ridiculous l’affair Pelosi"
After some contradictory reporting, we’re getting multiple reports from usually reliable sources that Pelosi’s Taiwan trip is, indeed, on. According to Zerohedge, most of these reports originate in Taiwan:
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Taiwan Officials Say Pelosi "Definitely Coming" As China Begins Closing Waters For New PLA Drills
Update(10:55ET): The vast majority of breathless Western media reports about Nancy Pelosi's now "imminent" Taiwan visit are being sourced to Taiwanese media and officials; and among Taiwanese outlets it seems to race is on to produce more and more specific detailed predictions. ...
At the same time The Wall Street Journal is reporting Monday that "she's definitely coming" - based on an unnamed source in contact with top Taiwan officials:
People whom Mrs. Pelosi is planning to meet with in Taiwan have been informed of her imminent arrival, this person said, though some details remain in flux. Some of Ms. Pelosi’s meetings have been scheduled for Tuesday evening, but most are set for Wednesday, the person said, adding that they include, but aren’t limited to, Taiwanese government officials. "She’s definitely coming," the person said. "The only variable is whether she spends the night in Taipei."
And yet Pelosi herself - not to mention the White House - could likely be very much on the fence given China's military has ramped up threats, and is now on a war-footing, based particularly on harsher quotes coming out in state media on Monday. Taiwan's defense ministry has said "no comment" when asked to confirm is she's arriving.
The Chinese army will surely eliminate Pelosi’s visit’s consequence through the escalation of military operations. As a result, this will make her dejected and humiliated: Global Times Commentator Hu Xijin#HuSays pic.twitter.com/6MrLRmNX3O
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 1, 2022
China has also announced closure of waters in the South China Sea amid ongoing PLA navy drills.
To say that China is not amused would be putting it mildly—such a trip crosses a major red line laid down by China. The problem is that US Neocons—let’s not pretend that Zhou is in charge of this, he’s isolated again—have shaped this in such a way that neither side can back down:
If Pelosi Now Chickens Out And Doesn't Go To Taiwan, China Will Have Proven It Controls Access To It
China has made clear it will respond if Pelosi does ‘go there’. Indeed, just days after Xi told President Biden that on Taiwan, “those who play with fire will get burned”, the Global Times says "Don't say we didn't warn you!", and the PLA says they are “Preparing for war,” to public approval.
Since 1979, when the US recognized the PRC government as the government of “China”, thus withdrawing such recognition from the ROC on Taiwan, there has been an elaborate diplomatic dance surrounding US relations with Taiwan. I assume that this was initially largely for domestic US purposes, lest the US be seen as soft on the “Chicoms” and abandoning an “ally”—in reality, a client state. Note that the change in the direction of recognizing Taiwan as a separate country, independent of China, came about under Trump in 2018. This ended an unusual but seemingly stable standoff. Here’s the Wikipedia summary:
After the United States established diplomatic relations with the Beijing government, or People's Republic of China (PRC), under the Communist Party of China's rule as "China" in 1979, Taiwan–United States relations became unofficial and informal. Until March 16, 2018, informal relations between the two states were governed by the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which allows the United States to have relations with the "people on Taiwan" and their government, whose name is not specified. U.S.–Taiwan relations were further informally grounded in the "Six Assurances" in response to the third communiqué on the establishment of US–PRC relations. Following the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act by the U.S. Congress on March 16, 2018, relations between the United States and Taiwan have since maneuvered to an official and high-level basis. Both sides have since signed a consular agreement formalizing their existent consular relations on September 13, 2019. The United States removed self-imposed restrictions on executive branch contacts with Taiwan on January 9, 2021.
The policy of deliberate ambiguity of US foreign policy to Taiwan is important to stabilize cross-strait relations and to assist Taiwan from an invasion by the PRC if possible, whereas a policy of strategic clarity on Taiwan would likely induce PRC opposition and challenges to US legitimacy in East Asia or beyond. As stipulated by the TRA, the United States continues to be the main provider of arms to Taiwan, which is often a source of tension with the PRC. Both states maintain representative offices functioning as de facto embassies. Taiwan is represented by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), and the United States by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
What’s going on in all this?
Neocon policy is based on the US maintaining global hegemony—that’s the point of our world wide system of military bases, our continual interventions in obscure (and sometimes not so obscure) corners of the world, of our enormous fleet of aircraft carriers roving the world’s oceans, with the implied threat of massive bombing campaigns directed at anyone who displeases us. Another name for this global US hegemony would be American Exceptionalism, now understood not as a noble experiment in self governance but as the status as the country that has the last say everywhere in the world about whatever it chooses to have a say in. The Rules-Based Order. America’s rules, America’s order—everyone else is more or less renting space at our sufferance.
The problem that has been growing is that this view of the US role in the world is based on the notions of American military, economic, and technological supremacy—concepts that go hand in hand. This supremacy has been increasingly called into question.
The US response to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine illustrates that our military establishment has come to the realization Russia must be treated as a peer for strategic purposes. We can be a nuisance to Russia, but we can’t stop Russia when Russia chooses to exert its military force within its currently defined limits—not without risking massive retaliation that we would be powerless to deter, except by launching full out nuclear war. China, too, is likely capable of inflicting that type of massive damage on the US military within their chosen range of operations. The key here is that, while neither China nor Russia have expressed an intent to interfere militarily outside their historic territorial ranges of interest, they both reject the idea of American hegemony, and especially that of a hegemony based on military supremacy. Both have repeatedly rejected what they view, rightly, as US threats of a military nature.
Now, the military rise of Russia and China has been based on their economic and technological rise—and US neglect of its own long term economic and technological interests. It’s not a stretch to say that American trade and security policies have directly contributed to the hollowing out of our economy and the rise not only of China’s manufacturing sector but also of China’s technology sector. In turn, this has affected America’s military capabilities. This also explains the US reliance on economic warfare, “sanctions”, which are proving so counterproductive with Russia.
This is exactly the imbalance that the Bad Orange Man sought to address with tariffs and encouragement of US based manufacturing in critical technological sectors—such as semi-conductors. These policy responses to an obvious problem seemed rational and proportionate but, needless to say, Trump was criticized for this. Of course, rectifying the destructive work of our ruling elites that took place over decades cannot be accomplished in a few years.
Thus, it appears that, with global challenges to US hegemony growing and becoming increasingly serious, the American response has become ever more aggressive and threatening. In fact, as regards China, from the very inception of the Zhou regime our Neocon masters have adopted a highly provocative attitude toward China, which the Chinese—and not only the Chinese—have seen as arrogant and offensive. We see this also with regard to Russia. In place of diplomacy, name calling and offensive epithets have become the American default mode of international communication. One could be excused for suspecting that the US has been actively seeking to provoke crises with the two major countries that have proven most reluctant to subordinate their own national interests to the US Rules-Based Order—China and Russia.
Russia has proven notably measured in its response to repeated and serious US provocations. The US clearly instigated the Ukraine conflict—almost certainly in search of a plausible reason for launching it’s economic “shock and awe” campaign to bring Russia to its knees—to reduce the ruble to “rubble”, in the offensively arrogant, and inaccurate, phrase Zhou’s handlers coined for him. Is the Pelosi trip to Taiwan a page out of the same playbook? A move to provoke China to actions that the US will use to broaden its economic war to most of the rest of the world?
Yesterday Tom Luongo made an argument that this may be the case. The article—Sanctions Only Buy Time, Not Victory—focuses heavily on Russia, but China (including Taiwan) figures into his analysis in a significant way. While I disagree with much of what Luongo suggests regarding purely military matters, I believe in a bigger picture view Luongo has important insights. Luongo argues that the goal of the US sanctions war is to deprive China and Russia of key technology that is applicable to advanced military systems. The aim is to maintain US military hegemony long enough to force Russia and China back into a uni-polar world order—the US Rules-Based Order. However, as the title openly states, there is good reason to believe that the amount of time bought in this way will not be sufficient to purchase victory.
In the portion of his article that specifically addresses China, Luongo begins by pointing out that China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) has, in the past year, made enormous technological strides. Luongo comments:
SMIC’s surprising progress raises questions about how effective export controls have been and whether Washington can indeed thwart China’s ambition to foster a world-class chip industry at home and reduce reliance on foreign technologies. It also comes at a time American lawmakers have urged Washington to close loopholes in its Chinese-oriented curbs and ensure Beijing isn’t supplying crucial technology to Russia.
This, he suggests, is the proper context in which to view Pelosi’s hyper-provocative trip to Taiwan. It seems designed to induce a proportionately extreme response from China—one that will make something perhaps as as extreme as a full out trade war seem to be a rational response.
Pelosi going to Taiwan the same week the Biden administration is touting its new CHIPS Act, to invest billions in new US-based fabs, is clearly an attempt to get China to over-react to give the US the excuse it needs to put export-control sanctions on China.
Or something like that. Export control sanctions would seem to me to pale in significance in light of the rhetoric we’re seeing from China. Luongo agrees that the US is seeking to enforce unipolarity—US hegemony—on the entire world. The Neocons are not interested in the type of diplomacy that the US used to engage in—Kissinger’s trip to China, and that sort of thing. But that hegemony is slipping away, day by day, as more and more countries see the attractions of BRICS. The only way to stop that process, or so it seems to me, is a massive offensive against both China and Russia—presumably an economic offensive, but the Neocons are clearly flirting with the possibility of kinetic military action. Consider Luongo’s framing of this situation:
Remember, when it comes to fighting Russia and China, Davos and US/UK neocons have common purpose. When it comes to who controls the restored Unipolar world and what it looks like, that’s where their paths diverge.
We’ve been threatening China’s chip industry since the war began. We did the same thing to the Russians before the invasion. But it was Trump’s blacklisting Huawei that spurred SMIC to ramp up development work to get us to where we are today.
So, don’t think those sanctions aren’t the first thing on the list if China over-reacts to any future provocation. In fact, I’d wager good money that getting those sanctions in place aren’t the whole point of this ridiculous l’affair Pelosi.
This is why sanctions aren’t a path to victory. They are nothing more than a time-buying exercise. ...
You can’t stop the flow of information without eventually running into the very real ‘put up or shut up’ moment where someone says, “I can also build this or make this, what are you going to do to stop it?”
SMIC is likely reverse engineering TMSC’s [Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited] designs, if not outright stealing them. Are we going to start a two-front war with nuclear powers on opposite sides of the world over this?
This seems to be where we are. We know that China is cooperating closely with Russia. What will be the response to the Pelosi provocation? Will China coordinate with Russia, and deal the US yet one more setback?