After Pelosi’s Visit, Most of the Indo-Pacific Sides With Beijing

By Derek Grossman, Foreign Policy

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this month prompted China to conduct unprecedented military drills that included surrounding the island on all sides, firing missiles over it, and taking other highly aggressive steps.

Heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait also elicited responses from other nations in the Indo-Pacific that predictably and overwhelmingly upheld Beijing’s “One China” principle—that Taiwan is part of mainland China. Pelosi’s trip made it equally clear, however, that key US allies strongly support Taiwan’s cause as well, particularly in the face of a potential war over the island, suggesting that Beijing’s assertive behavior is steadily alienating nations that otherwise may have minded their own business.

At the very forefront of support for Taiwan are Japan and Australia. Along with the United States, they issued a joint statement on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressing their “concern about [China’s] recent actions that gravely affect international peace and stability” and urging Beijing “to immediately cease the military exercises.” Their statement also noted “there is no change in the respective [O]ne China policies” of Australia, Japan, and the United States, though this was clearly not the focus.

Another important US ally, South Korea, played its cards very differently. Pelosi’s next stop after Taipei was to Seoul, where South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol claimed to be on a staycation and opted for a phone call with her instead—which some interpreted as a snub. There was no official South Korean statement on Taiwan. When asked to comment, a South Korean official from the president’s office urged “close communication with relevant parties” without mentioning China or Taiwan—essentially a non-statement that favors Beijing because it refrains from supporting Taipei.

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