The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has arrived in Taiwan. As such, she is the highest-ranking US official to make a visit to the island since her predecessor, Speaker Newt Gingrich, visited in 1997. While there is likely little both would agree on, the former Speaker has been quite supportive of Speaker Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan. China has been huffing and puffing about the visit since it was announced, but there’s very little Beijing could do short of shooting down Pelosi’s plane. Which isn’t likely to happen.

Beijing has viewed Taiwan as a breakaway province since the time of Mao, and has worked diligently to erode international recognition of Taipei under its One China Principle. The US since Nixon has held off formally recognizing Taiwan as an independent country, but since the end of the Cold War Washington has moved steadily toward an economic and security relationship with Taiwan that falls just short of official recognition, to Beijing’s dismay.

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