Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
NEW! Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+ Try 7 Days Free

With Taiwan drills, Xi tries to salvage Pelosi crisis

World Aug 08, 2022 04:00AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Corrects Chang's title to Deputy Secretary General (not Secretary General) in paragraph 10)

By Yew Lun Tian

BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping may not have been able to stop Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, but he ordered his country's military to rehearse a much more aggressive step: a blockade crucial to taking the island by force, security experts say.

China's military planners have long discussed a blockade of Taiwan, but until now most likely saw practicing such a move as too provocative, security experts say.

But after U.S. House Speaker Pelosi's visit, China's military for the first time fired missiles over Taipei, flew waves of drones over Taiwan's offshore islands, sailed warships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait and surrounded the self-ruled island in what Taiwan's military said amounted to a practice "blockade."

"These first actions in effect changed the status quo of Taiwan's security," said Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

"This gives China's military a new basis from which to push more boundaries in future exercises," he said.

The show of capability and resolve comes from a People's Liberation Army (PLA) that is far more formidable than it was during the "Third Taiwan Strait Crisis" in 1996, the last time it fired missiles near Taiwan.

The ability to enforce a blockade would give Beijing leverage to bring Taiwan to the negotiating table during a conflict.

If Taiwan, unwilling to suffer large-scale death and destruction, accepted unification bloodlessly, Xi would secure the biggest prize in his long-term goal of "rejuvenation of the Chinese people".

Although Taiwan's public, jaded by decades of Beijing's threats, appeared unfazed, some observers said its military leaders might be worried.

Michael Chang, who managed the 1996 Taiwan missile crisis when he was Deputy Secretary General of Taiwan's National Security Council, told local media the drills could be a preview of a Chinese invasion scenario.

The United States and its allies such as Japan condemned the drills. Because they did not want to escalate the situation, they did not directly intervene to halt the blockade rehearsal.

A former Chinese defence official told Reuters that their reaction would be cold comfort to Taiwanese politicians and military leaders.

"Seeing how the U.S. and its allies responded to the drills, how confident can Taiwan leaders be in counting on them to come to the rescue should the PLA attack?" he said.

The exercises were scheduled to end on Sunday.


The episode comes at a sensitive time for Xi, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Mao founded the People's Republic of China by winning a civil war in 1949, sending the nationalist Kuomintang government retreating to Taiwan, which has been self-ruled ever since.

Bringing Taiwan into Beijing's embrace is the key piece of unfinished business that would cement Xi's stature alongside Mao's and justify his move in 2018 to abandon term limits.

Despite widespread frustration over a zero-COVID policy that has put the country into a third year of self-imposed isolation and battered the world's second-largest economy, Xi is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third five-year leadership term at a key Communist Party congress this year.

Domestically, Beijing must balance the outrage it whipped up over Pelosi's visit with the embarrassment of not preventing it, observers said.

State media played up the drills with videos and commentary extolling China's advanced military capabilities.

Former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said the hype is partly a face-saving effort for Xi, who cannot afford to look weak before the party congress.

"The hard and incontrovertible fact is that for all the bluster, China failed to deter the Pelosi visit. So the CCP has to put up a show in its response," he said.


Although China may have edged a step closer to using force on Taiwan, most experts don't believe a war is imminent.

"Invasion within this decade is far from certain to succeed. Failure would spell the end of Xi Jinping, his dream and possibly the CCP," said Charles Parton, a retired British diplomat.

Xi, who has not spoken publicly about Pelosi's visit but as chairman of the Central Military Commission is effectively the PLA's commander-in-chief, would be well aware of the risks of action, experts say.

"China would've hoped that these drills could somehow stop the worrying trend of the U.S., Europe and many other countries becoming more sympathetic to Taiwan,” said Li, the security analyst. "So far, that effect remains to be seen.”

With Taiwan drills, Xi tries to salvage Pelosi crisis

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
gab nea
gab nea Aug 07, 2022 8:28AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
the best thing happened as a result of her visit and the chinese hissy fit. Taiwan is standing its defenses. great! if the Chinese have not learned anything about Russia's failure in ukraine, they will be next !
Jt Overstreet
Jt Overstreet Aug 07, 2022 8:28AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
stand their defenses while the world watches them get choked out through a blockade? until the U.S. forces open the Taiwan strait and keeps it open, Taiwan will be vulnerable. Time to bring Japan into the mix, as well.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email