Recent months have witnessed a sharp rise in tensions between the United States and China and across the Taiwan Strait. High-level U.S. efforts to engage with Taiwan have been met with strong backlash from China. When then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, China escalated with unprecedented military exercises around Taiwan, provoking the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis. In April 2023, China again took major military and diplomatic measures after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen transited the United States and met with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.
This ChinaPower series closely examines developments surrounding the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis of 2022–2023. Below, you can preview some of the highlights of each feature in the series and navigate to the full features by following the links.
When then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, China responded with unprecedented military activities and strong punitive diplomatic measures. China’s military exercises in August were larger and closer to Taiwan than the exercises China carried out during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-1996. The exercises also included unprecedented live-firing of ballistic missiles over Taiwan. This feature closely tracks and analyzes China’s military activities and diplomatic escalation after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
After China’s unprecedented military and diplomatic response to Speaker Pelosi’s visit, ChinaPower surveyed 64 leading experts and former senior U.S. officials about China’s approach to Taiwan. The survey included questions on key issues such as Beijing’s potential timelines for Taiwan’s unification as well as the likelihood of accidents or conflict in the coming years. This feature visualizes and analyzes the results of the survey.
In March and April 2023, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen transited the United States and met with U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in California. By having Tsai and McCarthy meet during an unofficial Taiwan transit of the United States, there were hopes that Beijing’s activities would be less escalatory than it was when Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022. This feature provides historical context to Tsai’s 2023 transit by assessing trends in previous transits and analyzing Chinese responses.
Despite hopes that Beijing’s activities following the Tsai-McCarthy meeting would be more limited, China again launched a series of large-scale military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan. China also took significant diplomatic countermeasures against Taiwan and the United States. This feature includes detailed timelines tracking key Chinese military and diplomatic activities before, during, and after the transit.
This feature analyzes the important similarities and differences between China’s military and diplomatic activities in August 2022 and April 2023. It also examines the key factors that may have driven China’s overall approach. Using data, it concludes that Beijing carried out less heavy-handed, more calculated measures in April, suggesting it learned from its experience in August.