As if the trade war between China and the US under the banner of the China containment policy and the prevailing tensions in the South China Sea were not bothersome enough for the world to get apprehensive about a cold war turning into a possible military nightmare. As if the Ukraine war was not worrisome enough for the world that another wargaming room has been fashioned. Or, perhaps the Generals got bored and wanted some real-time excitement again. Here, one would avoid bringing in the conspiracy theory that revolves around the interests of arms-producing multi-billion-dollar companies. Conversely, it might just be a barometric move to test the extent of China’s sensitivities about its ‘own’ territory being overtly intruded. Whatever the case may be, a high-level dramatic visit from Washington to Taiwan was certainly telling, defiant and provocative, to say the least.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week must have alarmed a few geo-strategists around the world. Perhaps, it also laid the foundation for another potential war zone capable of engulfing peace and security in and around the island. Worse, it might actually prove to be the stepping stone for a long-drawn battle between the Titans. All said and done, the stage was set for a possible showdown. The inevitable had happened…!!

The tension started mounting after China sharply reacted to the visit by promising ‘punishment’ and making an example of it. According to China’s Foreign Office, ‘in the current struggle surrounding Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim’. Soon China started revealing the contours of the said ‘punishment’. Besides imposing unspecified sanctions on Pelosi and her family, China suspended or cancelled several meetings with the US relating to cooperation in the fields of defence, security, immigration, transnational crimes and more importantly, bilateral Climate Change talks.

Up till now, the Chinese military would avoid coming too close to the island, apprehending retaliation from the Taiwanese or for that matter the US military. But the military drills announced by China coinciding with Pelosi’s visit apparently provided a kind of raison d’être to gradually coming closer to Taiwan, particularly down South and up North. Soon, China is likely to make it difficult for any outside forces to reach the island. Military experts believe that by cordoning off Taiwan, Chinese forces would seemingly be in control of the island.

If the visit was just to test the waters, perhaps Washington did it while completely ignoring President Xi Jinping’s speech last year. Marking one hundred years since the Communist Party’s founding last year, President Xi issued a stern warning to certain unspecified ‘foreign forces’ against any external attempts to subjugate China. Otherwise, their heads would be ‘bashed bloody against the Great Wall’. By far, this was the strongest and most assertive statement made by the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong. Declaring that nothing could divide the Party and the nation, Xi explicitly spelt out his intentions to respond to the intensifying rivalry with the West. Did he say anything about China’s claim over Taiwan? Well, vowing ‘resolute action’ against any efforts towards Taiwan’s independence, the President reiterated Beijing’s firm commitment to one day take control of the island.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan prompted an enraged China immediately to gear up for ‘necessary and just’ military exercises just off the island’s coast. Expressing solidarity with the government and people of Taiwan, Pelosi did not mince words in conveying the West’s message about the island’s present and future disposition. In the backdrop of an upcoming legislation in the US to formally recognise Taiwan, the visit was an obvious attempt to bolster Taiwan’s sense of security. Conversely, the visit provided China with the long-awaited legitimacy to start aggressive patrolling around the island. Exhibiting military prowess, several missiles were also fired over Taiwan.

Expressing gratitude to Washington for its staunch support for Taiwan ‘in this critical juncture’, President Tsai Ing-wen told Pelosi that ‘facing deliberately heightened military threats’, Taiwan would not back down and continue defending democracy. There you go…! Tiny Taiwan seemed ready for a face-off with mighty China. Just before fleeing Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani also expressed more or less the same sentiment.

Once again, Pakistan was in the forefront to reiterate its unequivocal support for the ‘One-China’ policy that claims Taiwan as a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as China. Simultaneously, this policy opposes the idea that there exist two states with the name of ‘China’ or an independent country called the Republic of China (ROC). The policy is also opposed to the idea that China and Taiwan formed two separate countries. Under an interim government, offering full support to China manifestly proved at least one point. The Sino-Pak relationship goes beyond any change of government in Pakistan. It is the State’s policy. Nevertheless, it is hoped that Islamabad did actually calculate the pros and cons of openly supporting China under the prevailing circumstances, particularly given its ongoing endeavours to mend ways with the US.

In the end, would it be fair to recall that in October 1949, some Kuomintang military and political officials retreated to Taiwan after being defeated only to set up a separate regime there with outside help? Is it a good time to revisit the three Communiques of 1972, 1979 and 1982 jointly issued by Washington and Beijing on Vietnam, the Korean Peninsula, Kashmir and Taiwan when both countries, inter alia, resolved to respect each other’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity while announcing the commencement of normal Sino-US relations? Is it a good time to recall that the US formally acknowledged that the PRC was the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan was part of China? Is it a good time to recall that Taiwan is primarily an issue between the Chinese people living on both sides of the Taiwan Straits? Or, is it time to comprehend the meanings of realpolitik afresh?