MOSCOW, July 29. /TASS/. The escalation of the conflict around Taiwan may happen in August amid the potential visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island, says Vasily Kashin, senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies and director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the HSE University.
"Should the visit take place, then we may see an escalation of the situation around Taiwan, and escalation of the conflict. I do not think that this will be an immediate full-scale military action. Maybe, it won’t come to this at all, but there will be rather threatening military steps," Kashin said in an interview for TASS.
According to the expert, this may include military exercises, violation of the median line (which informally exists between mainland China and the island) or attempts of blockade of Taiwan.
"Should the visit take place after all, then we may see a rather dangerous development of events," the researcher said.
Kashin speculated that the conflict may escalate into full-scale hostilities in the future.
"Most likely, it will not happen immediately. There will be a period of escalation, which may last up to several weeks, when statements will be made, some military steps will be undertaken, as attempts to intimidate one or another side," he believes. "In my opinion, the situation around the island will stay very intense for the next couple of years."
At the same time, the expert pointed out that right now is not a favorable time for the US for an on Taiwan to occur, because major US forces are diverted to Europe amid the conflict around Ukraine.
"It is difficult to be completely prepared, because we are talking about a threat of clash unlike anything that happened since World War II," he said. "It is a threat of a full-scale military conflict with involvement of the entire spectrum of naval warfare capabilities, and the degree of uncertainty in such conflicts is especially high."
According to the expert, subjective assessments of the situation in a part of the US leadership are an important point.
"Many in the US still believe that the US’ supremacy is so colossal and overwhelming that it allows it to deal with two crises simultaneously, so they may take this risk," he explained. "The US’ actions may be affected by their concerns that China will become even stronger if they wait any longer, so it would be best to inflict a decisive blow right now, even if the situation is sub-optimal."
Kashin pointed out that there are different opinions regarding Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan within the US Administration.
"We don’t know how much truth there is in these media reports about the visit. Maybe, these disagreements were either exaggerated or invented by the reporters. But, even if they exist, it does not cancel the fact that a significant part of the US elite wants this conflict. In principle, this is a very serious provocation. Should the visit take place, the probability of a conflict is very high," he underscored.
Earlier, the media reported that US House Speaker Pelosi - the third highest official in the US state hierarchy - plans to visit Taiwan in August. This was reported by The Financial Times and Politico. According to the reports, she planned to make this visit earlier in April, but allegedly did not go due to Covid infection. This trip would have become the first visit of a US House Speaker to Taiwan in the last 25 years.