By airing the possibility of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan next month, Washington is testing Beijing's reaction.
It was originally planned that she would visit the island in April, but her infection with the novel coronavirus put paid to that.
Unlike the stealthy visits of some US lawmakers and former government officials to the island, which were announced after their arrival, the proposed visit by Pelosi has been broadcast well in advance both times. Since the United States is well aware that the Taiwan question is the most sensitive of China's core interests, it knows the visit will be strongly opposed by Beijing as it will seriously break the US' pledge to respect the one-China principle, inflict serious damage on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and seriously shake the political foundation of Sino-US relations, as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
If her visit does take place in August, Pelosi will be the second House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years. But China is no longer what it was when then House speaker Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997.
Wrapping up his visit to Taiwan that year, when the Bill Clinton administration carefully tiptoed the line on the most sensitive part of bilateral relations, Gingrich proudly told the media, referring to his meeting with Chinese leaders afterwards: "I said firmly, 'We want you to understand, we will defend Taiwan. Period'," which incurred a "calm" response from Beijing urging the US to treat the Taiwan question with care. But this time, the US should brace for Beijing's "resolute and forceful measures" as a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
The US should know that by repeatedly playing the Taiwan card, its credit on the Chinese side is being bankrupted by its own hypocrisy.
Barely two weeks before Pelosi's planned visit to Taiwan was made public, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in their meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting that the US does not support "Taiwan independence", and it is committed to managing the risk factors in bilateral relations. White House Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also conveyed similar messages to Chinese top diplomat Yang Jiechi in their meeting in Luxembourg last month.
Saying one thing and doing another has become a habit of the Joe Biden administration, which is shaking the foundation for the "guardrails" it says it wants to build for relations. Releasing the information on Pelosi's planned trip to Taiwan, even if it falls through again for whatever reason, is enough to let the region and beyond see that the only commitment of the US is to safeguard its hegemony.
The secessionists on the island should also know that receiving more visits from US politicians only indicates that they are recklessly binding the island tighter to the US' dangerous agenda.