Strategy Note /

China's mild response (so far) to Pelosi's provocation in one chart

  • Pelosi's Taiwan visit isn't supported by President Biden – there's no benefit for the US to disrupt status quo in Taiwan

  • In response, China has ramped up missile test and military drills, banned minor Taiwan exports (sand, fish, fruit items)

  • But measured by air sorties into Taiwan's ADIZ, China's response so far is mild vs. prior spikes in tension

China's mild response (so far) to Pelosi's provocation in one chart
Hasnain Malik
Hasnain Malik

Strategy & Head of Equity Research

Tellimer Research
3 August 2022
Published byTellimer Research

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Taiwan. The 82-year old is the most senior US official to visit for over two decades. But the significance of the trip is diminished by the likely loss of her House Speaker role after the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections and the lack of support from the administration. Her trip is not supported by President Biden, albeit, rhetorically, he chose to hide behind the fig leaf of "the military thinks it's not a good idea right now".

In response to Pelosi's visit, China has ramped up plans for missile tests and military drills around Taiwan and banned minor Taiwan exports (sand, fish, fruit items). But, measured by air sorties into the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan, the number of Chinese aircraft is, so far, significantly lower than seen during previous spikes in tension with the US, eg after US-Taiwan arms sales talks in June or US-Japan naval exercises in January.

The critical point is that there is, ultimately, no benefit for the US or China to disrupt the murky status quo in Taiwan. From a US perspective, China's lack of full control of Taiwan means that trade sea transit routes to US allies, South Korea and Japan, cannot be blocked. And from a China perspective, until there is overwhelming local military superiority that guarantees victory, there is no urgency to engage in a hot conflict.

For more on this, please see these two previously published reports:

Biden talks Taiwan and IPEF but doesn't alter Asia security and trade outlook, May 2022

China-Taiwan impact from Russia-Ukraine, February 2022

China air sorties in Taiwan: Tempered response to Pelosi