The way that the US undermined Chiang during the Chinese Civil War 1946-1949, and the way it cast aside Taiwan at the United Nations in 1971, is reason enough for Taiwan to be extremely cautious in dealing with the US at present. Beyond rhetoric, and sending defensive arms, the US will likely not fight very hard in Taiwan’s defense going forward no matter what happens regarding Speaker Pelosi’s visit.
Taiwan should not be naïve about the purpose of House Speaker Pelosi’s visit. Not just because China has called the action a red line, and threatened retaliatory action, but because her visit will likely benefit China more than it benefits Taiwan. There is a historical precedent for believing this is true.
The first precedent has to do with the actions of the United States during the Chinese Civil War. Right at the time when it looked as if the US backed troops led by Chiang Kai-shek would defeat the communist leader Mao Zedong, President Harry Truman sent George C. Marshall to China to negotiate a cease fire, and form a coalition government. In short, Marshall’s plan failed miserably. Marshall gave up and went home, and US support began to dwindle little by little.
The 13 month cease fire engineered by Marshall gave Mao time to regroup, reengage Chiang’s Nationalist Army, and gain the upper hand in the conflict. Chiang was forced to retreat toward the East China Sea, and ultimately Chiang, his troops, and his government fled to an island known then as Formosa. Today, we know it as Taiwan.
Chiang subsequently built the tiny island nation into an economic powerhouse that was based on the virtues of Confucianism and the principles of biblical Christianity. It’s worth noting in passing, that Chiang and his wife Soong Mei-Ling, were both confessing Christians, and beloved by missionaries, Christians, and statesmen from all around the world. Yet, in the end Chiang was undermined by US foreign policy.
This brings us to the second historical precedent which should make Taiwan suspicious of Speaker Pelosi’s visit. From the late 1960’s to 1971 the US developed a policy of Rapprochement with Communist China at the direction of President Richard Nixon. Nixon was to visit China in 1972. However, in 1971 he dispatched Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to China to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
At the same time, the US proposed to the United Nations that they seat delegations from both Communist China and Taiwan. Conversely, the UN responded with resolution 2758 which stated that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was the only legitimate government of China. The resolution also stipulated that Taiwan be replaced by the PRC as a permanent member of the Security Council. Taiwan, and the government of Chiang Kai-shek, were summarily expelled from the United Nations and all other organizations related to it.
Keep in mind, while the US proposed keeping both delegations at the UN, and voted “No” on Resolution 2758, it failed to put up much of a fight when the UN expelled Taiwan. Hence, the US has officially supported the “One China” policy ever since even while offering rhetoric to the contrary.
These two lessons from history should give the government in Taiwan pause as it prepares to receive Speaker Pelosi. The way that the US undermined Chiang during the Chinese Civil War 1946-1949, and the way it cast aside Taiwan at the United Nations in 1971, is reason enough for Taiwan to be extremely cautious in dealing with the US at present. Beyond rhetoric, and sending defensive arms, the US will likely not fight very hard in Taiwan’s defense going forward no matter what happens regarding Speaker Pelosi’s visit. Taiwan, like Ukraine, is caught in the middle of a struggle between two great power countries. It can only win by staying neutral.
There is another, howbeit, unrelated reason Taiwan should be distrustful of the Speaker Pelosi’s visit. In 2019 Taiwan earned the dubious distinction of being the first and only Asia-Pacific country to legalize same-sex marriage, and guarantee LGBTQ rights, including the right for individuals to decide their own gender. Taiwan boasts of the largest Pride parades in the region with over 200 thousand attending in 2021. The country has an extremely large LGBTQ lobby. It is certainly not beneath Speaker Pelosi to exploit this issue and encourage Taiwan to adopt even more of LGBTQ agenda. In Pelosi’s view, this is what it means to be a Western style democracy.
The Church at large should also question its support for these so-called democracies since the meaning of the word “democracy” has gradually been reduced to a single definition: the promotion of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. From the point of view of the West, governments who openly advocate and legislate in favor of these special rights are seen as fully democratic while all others are not. This reductionistic change in meaning of the term has occurred with lightning speed in democracies all around the globe, but perhaps nowhere faster than it has in Taiwan. Keep in mind, Taiwan had its first democratic election in 1996.
To its credit, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a pastoral letter renouncing the legalization of same-sex marriage and the LBGTQ agenda. Catholics did likewise and issued their own paper on the topic. Thankfully, the church in Taiwan thus far has shown remarkable solidarity on this subject. We should all pray that Taiwan will not be further swayed, either politically or morally, by Speaker Pelosi’s visit.