When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied White House indications that she would not stop in Taiwan on her farewell tour of Asian capitals, she ignited the worst US-China diplomatic row in decades.

And how did last week’s collision turn out for the United States?

writes The New York Times: Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan began with her “plane leaving Kuala Lumpur and heading southeast toward the Indonesian part of Borneo, then turning north to fly along the eastern part of the Philippines. There was a more direct—and shorter—route. Fly northeast on a direct route to Taiwan over the South China Sea.”

Pelosi’s claim that China avoids 90% of the South China Sea may have something to do with China’s control of islands in that sea that Beijing has converted into air, missile and naval bases.

After 19 hours in Taiwan, the speaker flew to South Korea, where her reception was described as “great”. President Yoon Suk Yeol, though home in Seoul when Pelosi arrived, did not meet with her, but instead had a 40-minute phone conversation.

South Korea, like its neighbours, is keen not to offend China.

Consider the discrepancy here: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand all rely on the United States as their No. 1 ally to defend them against China, but all boast China as their No. 1 trading partner.

How did Beijing react to Pelosi’s 19 hours in Taiwan?

With warplanes, warships and ballistic missiles, China conducted live-fire drills at six locations around Taiwan from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. A Chinese missile flew over Taiwan. Five landed in Japan’s special economic zone.

This direct fire in and around Taiwan resulted in a naval quarantine or blockade. Ships and aircraft of other nations avoided air corridors and waters targeted by Chinese forces.

China announced diplomatic and economic sanctions on the US and Taiwan, canceled talks with Washington on climate change and military ties.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a triggering event that ignited the Chinese war game against Taiwan. But these air, naval and missile exercises were not planned in one day. They are designed as a dress rehearsal for how China intends to repatriate Taiwan when President Xi Jinping decides the time is right.

Pelosi spent the rest of her trip insisting that her visit did not represent a change in US policy on Taiwan.

“Our representation here is not about changing the status quo,” Pelosi reiterated to reporters in Tokyo, adding that Beijing “maybe using our visit as an excuse.”

During the 72 hours of live fire, the White House echoed Pelosi that the US recognizes Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is “part of China” and does not contest that claim. We have no intention of changing US policy towards Taiwan as it has been since Jimmy Carter severed US diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979.

Where was US Airman Ronald Reagan all this while on Asian assignment? Cruises in the Philippine Sea, not the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait or the East China Sea, are all claimed by Beijing.

What message was sent and received by the war games with which China responded to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan?

The message from Beijing to America was clear. China considers Taiwan as its independent province. It will confront any power, including the United States, that is seen as challenging that political reality. It would respond to any Taiwanese move to assert Beijing’s independence as casus belli, a justification for war.

The White House has not moved any planes, ships or missiles to counter the Chinese live-fire exercises, and indeed, has repeatedly assured Beijing that Pelosi’s visit did not lead to any change in US policy.

It is hard to see how the free and democratic nations of Asia and America’s allies Japan, South Korea, and Australia could not deflect China’s aggression recently because of American inaction. Hawkish members of the Senate like Lindsey Graham believe so.

Consider the path Beijing has taken recently.

It has invaded and occupied the Himalayan borderlands from India, claimed the entire South China Sea, fortified half a dozen islands in that sea, claimed territorial waters in the Taiwan Strait, through which US and allied warships need Chinese permission to pass. , claimed Taiwan as part of China, as well as the nearby Senkaku Islands held by Japan.

Now it has sent military aircraft and warships across the Taiwan Strait to launch missiles and rockets into the waters surrounding Taiwan and onto the island, and test it to reassert its claim to the island.

When China in the 21st century lays claim to something in Asia, it backs up its claim with action. This trend is unmistakable and points to a future conflict over Taiwan.