U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi carried out her visit to Taiwan, meeting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the leadership of its parliament on Wednesday. During the visit, she confirmed the U.S.’s unwavering support to Taiwan and intentions to expand national exchanges and build stronger ties in semi-conductor industry between the two countries. Ms. Pelosi also directed criticisms against China, saying, “(China) continues to display brutal human rights records and disregard the rule of laws.”
Her visit to Taiwan took place as China ordered major live-fire drill following its strong warning and the U.S. dispatched aircraft carrier and fighter jets in case of an emergency. The much-worried armed conflicts did not occur, but China is continuing high-level navy and air force training from unprecedented areas, which include the sea close to Taiwan’s territory. Not only that, the communist regime’s chief said China’s enemies “will have their heads cracked and bleeding,” targeting the U.S.
The confrontation between the U.S. and China epitomizes how the strategic competitions, that go beyond trade and high-tech to more comprehensive ranges, can resort to a crisis involving potential armed conflicts. These dynamics could turn into an actual manifestation of ‘Thucydides Trap’ - a tendency toward war when emerging power and existing great power collide in competitions. China is already taking actions by suspending imports from Taiwan’s over some 100 food businesses and banning exports of natural sand used for construction and steel manufacturing to Taiwan – apparently as a way for economic retaliations.
Elevation of such conflicts between the two powerhouses puts pressures to South Korea as well. Amid imminent Taiwan Strait crisis, North Korea’s nuclear issue will not be a priority anymore. In addition, the U.S. may request South Korea to fulfill its responsibilities as an ally – which may include dispatch of U.S. armies currently stationed in South Korea to other locations, missile deployment within the South’s territory or other actions that would present even harder conundrums to the country. The South Korean government will have more matters to consider for its economy in dealing with Taiwan in terms of bilateral and multilateral relations along with the ‘Chip 4 Alliance.’
On top of that, the next destination of Ms. Pelosi of her Asia tour is South Korea. It is hard to forecast to which direction China’s anger will aim toward next. The South Korean government and its National Assembly will need to discuss how to cooperate with the U.S. but to be cautious in every step of the way when sending out its messages to others, in order to avoid embroilment in unwanted diplomatic disputes or conflicts. The government will need to carefully assess the prospects of conflicts between the U.S. and China as well as nuclear uses during the process, and how it would respond to national security crisis involving semiconductor. It is time for South Korea to desperately seek sagacious diplomacies in its relationships with the U.S. and China by taking on decisions after much scrupulous strategic reviews on its moves.