Xi Jinping’s Taiwan Restrictions Reveal Greater Preoccupations


China’s response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been restrained compared to last year, when former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island nation. This restraint shows that China President Xi Jinping has other matters aside from Taiwan on his mind, including his attempt to win support for his blueprint to bring peace to Ukraine, and to counter US efforts to block China’s access to new technology. At the same time, the possibility of a war in Asia has caused countries around the world to reassess their relationship with China, a development that could severely hurt China’s economic recovery from Covid Zero.

The European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron are in Beijing this week in an effort to win Chinese support, while Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is also set to visit China next week. Xi is also hoping to patch up ties with US allies, and his “charm offensive” may help prevent China from becoming isolated on the world stage.

China’s aggressive military reaction in response to Pelosi’s visit sparked renewed military tensions in the region, with countries like the Philippines strengthening military ties with the US, South Korea and Japan resolving a long-term dispute, and Australia taking another step to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Taiwan’s upcoming election in January 2024 has also served as a restraint for Xi, as any military provocations could strengthen President Tsai’s pro-independence party and damage the China-friendly Kuomintang’s chances. Tsai has done her part in avoiding unnecessary provocations, keeping her appearances lowkey and speaking broadly about democratic principles, and persuaded McCarthy to meet her in California rather than Taiwan.

Xi has also been cautious in his reaction against the meeting, as an aggressive response could hurt China’s reputation on a global stage. Social media postings on the meeting were heavily censored, with most comments instantly deleted. As Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Communist party-backed Global Times newspaper, wrote “This round is just at its beginning,” as China will eventually make sure Tsai pays a price for her actions.

The company mentioned in this article is Global Times, a newspaper owned and operated by the Communist Party of China. The paper is highly influential in China, and its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin is a well-known media figure with a long history of criticizing the country’s enemies, as well as promoting the party’s stance on many issues.

The person mentioned in the article is Tsai Ing-wen, the current President of Taiwan. She is known for her pro-independence stance and her efforts to strengthen the ties between Taiwan and the US. Tsai has been in office since 2016, winning the 2020 election with a record high number of votes. She is currently running for re-election in 2024 and has done her best to avoid provoking China while abroad.