The latest American showdown with China was sparked by leaked plans for a possible visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan — and is particularly dangerous because it is driven by domestic politics on both sides of the Pacific.
The spat is worsening already poor relations between the United States and China, as their 21st century superpower tussle takes shape. It also complicates a call expected as soon as Thursday between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Taiwan has long looked like the most likely spark to a military escalation between the US and China.
Under the complicated web of agreements governing relations with Beijing, Washington only grants formal diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China but maintains close ties with Taiwan — a self-governing democracy over which China claims sovereignty.
The US’ policy of strategic ambiguity has left it hazy what it would do if China ever invades Taiwan, partly to avoid encouraging a formal independence declaration by the government in Taipei. But the US is bound by law to offer Taiwan the means to defend itself.(CNN)