Beijing: The trip to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the way President Xi Jinping is formulating Beijing’s responses will be assessed and become a criterion for whether he wins a third term as China’s president in autumn.
Experts note that Xi cannot afford to make any mistakes in handling relations with the U.S. or in regard to Taiwan.
Notably, this week, Xi is going to meet his retired party elders at the annual “Beidaihe meeting” at the seaside resort in Hebei Province. The meeting is where China’s leaders and elders from earlier generations meet in an informal setting for closed-door discussions that will set the tone for major domestic issues.
Among the leaders he will meet, will also be the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, during whose term U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich made a trip to Taiwan 25 years ago. Jiang deftly dealt with Gingrich, and the relations with the US in his term grew significantly, wrote Katsuji Nakazawa, a senior staff writer at Nikkei Asia. The way Xi manages the situation will be inevitably compared to Jiang’s, adds Katsuji.
Throughout his presidency, Xi has made efforts to demonstrate that he has surpassed Jiang and Hu Jintao in terms of achievements and that he can deftly balance internal politics, diplomatic relations with the United States, and the Taiwan dispute. Therefore, the Pelosi visit is essentially a domestic Chinese issue, notes Katsuji.
If China had been successful in lobbying or exerting pressure and preventing Pelosi’s trip, Xi might have won the confidence in the upcoming Beidaihe meeting.
However, it has been 25 years since Gingrich’s Taiwan visit, and China’s economic and military might has now significantly grown. The populace now desires that the powerful nation flexes its muscles, where lies a huge risk, adds Katsuji.
As Jiang has long been proud of how he restored China’s relations with the U.S, it would not be surprising if he wants Xi to manage the relations between both countries effectively. The unprecedentedly severe economic slump in China could play a role in this.
However, this does not imply Xi would be advised to compromise on the Taiwan issue. Instead, Xi could be expected to take a realistic decision in regard to US relations, wrote Katsuji.
There is no doubt that 25 years after Gingrich’s Taiwan visit, U.S.-China relations remain an important factor that affects Chinese politics.
Undoubtedly, 25 years after Gingrich’s visit to Taiwan, ties between the United States and China continue to have a significant impact on Chinese politics.
It’s possible that China may continue its countermeasures long after Pelosi leaves Taipei to discourage more American dignitaries from travelling to Taiwan following the November elections in the United States, writes Katsuji.