Taiwan media outlets delivered breaking news on Tuesday evening, saying a C-40A Clipper military transport plane took off from Manila and landed at Songshan Air Force Base in Taipei at 6 pm the same day. It was carrying an undetermined number of US senators and congressmen to the Taiwan island. The Taiwan authorities stated there was no further clarification for the moment out of respect to the visitors' will, and relevant information will be announced in due course.
It seems that this was a sudden and sneaky visit without any announcement in advance. Now that the politicians have already arrived in Taiwan, who are they and how many people are there remain a secret. This is not the style of the US congressmen. It seems that these senators and congressmen are under some sort of "pressure." They are inconvenienced to "ignite" the baneful influence of their visit. They need to "slow down" the release of the influence, stir up some trouble but avoid making a blunder.
For the moment, tensions across the Taiwan Straits are heating up. Taiwan authorities are facing strong military pressure from the Chinese mainland. The US and the island wish to continue the confrontation across the Straits, but are concerned about an outbreak of war. Therefore, they are struggling and swaying between being tough and exercising restraint.
At this time, the US is bound to convey its support to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority and inspire the radical forces on the island. Members of the US Congress will surely meddle and show their presence. Otherwise, they will feel desperately lonely.
Yet there is a limit to the support the US can give to Taiwan in the ultimate sense. What the DPP authority wants most is a clear guarantee of US support for Taiwan's defense. But Washington has repeatedly said it will not abandon its "strategic ambiguity." It has refused to commit to sending troops to the Taiwan Straits if a war breaks out there. As a result, the significance of the US' "rock-solid" commitment, including enhancing Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, has been greatly reduced. Some US congressmen visiting the island will never become a bargaining chip to impact the development of the situation.
From the collusion of the US and Taiwan represented by the US congressmen's visit, to their attempts to bluff on showing their strength, these are not something immortal in the evolving situation in the Straits. They represent the short-term interests of the DPP authority and US politicians. They are only ephemeral and cannot become part of the accumulation of strength that affects the outcome of the struggle in the Taiwan Straits.
This time, the US congressmen played an edge ball by taking a military aircraft to Taiwan. It seems the US and the island will keep playing this kind of trick in the future. They are aware that there is a red line - US troops and combat equipment must not land on the island. So they sent a small number of soldiers there to train Taiwan military forces, and delivered vaccines on the island by military aircraft. They are pushing the red line one small step at a time. But the big picture is they will never dare to directly break through the red line drawn by the mainland. They don't have the nerve. All they could do is make petty moves to prove they are not intimidated by the mainland's deterrence.
It was unannounced what US senators and House representatives will do on the island. And it is not worthy of much speculation from the outside world. US congressmen's "business" is stirring up trouble and instigating public opinion. Most of the time, they are barely celebrities in public opinion with very limited capability to create geopolitical waves.
The US economy now is in a mess, and the chaotic supply chain has disrupted Americans' livelihood. President Joe Biden's approval rating continues to drop, and he really needs China's support to reach some political achievements. Now is not the time for his administration to raise the stakes to be tough on China. And this is not the time for US congressmen to put on a big show on the Taiwan island.
On Tuesday evening, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense condemned and warned US congressmen for visiting Taiwan. On the same day, the PLA Eastern Theater Command also conducted a joint combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Straits. There is no doubt that the dominant role of the situation and strategic rhythm across the Taiwan Straits has historically been transferred to the Chinese mainland. The Chinese mainland has the final say in when and how to resolve the Taiwan question.