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Pelosi Visits Taiwan: What’s the Impact of China’s Response?

What’s happening?

A visit to Taiwan from Nancy Pelosi, United States House of Representatives speaker, has prompted military drills and other Chinese threats that could significantly impact Taiwan security and US-China relations.

Pelosi made a 19-hour stop in Taiwan last week as part of an Asia tour spanning Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. In a Washington Post op-ed, Pelosi described her visit to Taiwan as “an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.” She was the first sitting US House Speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

In the recent past, China has threatened the US and its Asia-Pacific allies by making territorial claims over self-governing Taiwan, militarizing disputed islands in the South China Sea, and developing hypersonic missiles.


“As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.”

—Nancy Pelosi via The Washington Post


China cautioned against Pelosi’s visit for weeks, seeing her visit as support for Taiwan’s independence and a “major political provocation” that challenges China’s sovereignty. China also cited her visit as a violation of the US “One China” policy, which recognizes the PRC as China’s sole legal government but only acknowledges—not recognizes—that Taiwan is part of China. 


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What’s the impact?

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated, "China will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the U.S. Speaker’s visit.” So far, what have those measures looked like?


China has launched live-fire military exercises surrounding Taiwan, which continued past their scheduled end date on August 7th. The exercises, which include anti-submarine and sea assault operations, are located close to major Taiwanese ports and have entered Taiwan’s air defense zone. Some exercises have even crossed the median line, a no-go area intended to help both militaries avoid miscalculations. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry detected 66 aircraft and 14 warships involved in the exercises, surpassing the scale of military exercises during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-96.


Some other Chinese actions include:

  • Cyberattacks targeting Taiwan’s government websites, stores, and government facilities.
  • A rise in malign influence campaigns intended to sway public opinion toward Taiwan’s government. According to a Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesperson, the military has identified at least 272 attempts to spread disinformation.
  • Halting some Taiwanese imports, including fish, fruit, and natural sand.
  • Ending defense and climate discussions with the US and imposing sanctions against Pelosi.

The exercises have disrupted shipping and air traffic routes, foreshadowing the impact of a potential conflict on global trade. They also indicate China’s ability to execute a blockade, and experts are concerned that halted China-US communications will not only continue deteriorating diplomatic relations but also increase the chance of an accidental escalation over Taiwan. In the near future, China will likely increase military pressure on the island nation.


Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has described China’s actions as a “maritime and aerial blockade” that would “threaten international waterway[s], challenge the international order, undermine cross-strait status quo and endanger regional security.”

How can OSINT help?

As Pelosi’s plane reached Taiwan, 22 million Chinese citizens monitored a plane tracking livestream via WeChat amid speculation that the Chinese military would intercept her flight. Weibo, a popular Chinese social network, also crashed due to high traffic volumes as Pelosi arrived. 

Through the lens of social media and other open-source content, governments can gain a unique perspective on geopolitical environments. Beyond understanding public sentiment related to US-China relations, open-source intelligence (OSINT) can also help intelligence teams:

  • Identify and predict malign influence campaigns circulating the web.
  • Monitor critical locations for on-the-ground evidence of military activity.
  • Detect evidence of data breaches and other cyber attacks, which can surface on anonymized social networking sites and the dark web.

Combined with classified intelligence, this information helps governments make more informed, proactive decisions in response to national security risks from countries like China. Gathering this information requires access to various data sources, including mainstream social media, APAC networks, and defense forums. 

To learn more about OSINT solutions and data sources for public sector intelligence, book a call with Echosec Systems.