In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus presided over war and peace and was usually depicted as having two faces. The gates of a building in Rome named after him – an open enclosure with gates at each end – were opened in time of war.
It is said that one is judged by one’s actions, not words. With the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island of Taiwan, the world has witnessed a practical reversal of the USA’s “One-China” policy, written and endorsed in 1971 by the UN and the USA.
China is vast, comprised of a huge land mass and major islands, over which they have had dominion for centuries. Several times these islands have changed hands, usually by force (e.g., Hong Kong, Macau), but eventually they have returned to China’s rightful sovereignty. Taiwan is the same, having been sequestered by fleeing traitors under the questionable ‘leadership’ of Chiang Kaishek. However, from 1971, Taiwan has been recognised as part of China, never a separate state.
Speaker Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 3, 2022, much against the will of her own Democratic Party, even US President Biden, who counselled against the trip, and various media outlets including the New York Times. Nevertheless, as a strident critic of China, Ms Pelosi took her country one step further in hostility.
China has played a significant role in the past 40 years helping emerging nations improve infrastructure, raise standards of living, and promote education. China has become economically stronger due to opening their economy to market forces. The Belt and Road Initiative has taken hold globally, giving a method of exchange and communication all can use without the usual sanctions of crippling debt and indenture. What this means to the West is a loosening of their economic stranglehold on other countries, beginning a re-balancing of financial clout in favour of poorer nations. As China has been caring for these smaller countries for so long, they have become allies, partners in building a better, peaceful world. Anyone seen as jeopardising such progress will be seen as a wrecker, someone uninterested in equality, harmony, and a level playing-field. By Ms Pelosi visiting a Chinese territory and allying herself with secessionists, she is fomenting antagonism and deliberately flouting international agreements for personal, political gain. She is taunting China, pushing an ideology of confrontation and aggression. Even if mere rhetoric, this is terrible policy.
With the incredibly Anglo-Saxon AUKUS pact, conservative forces have coalesced around a mythical enemy (China), whilst selling military hardware under the guise of ‘defence’. With submarines in particular promised to Australia in 30 years’ time, it is proof positive the agreement is a toothless tiger, with meagre threats and inflammatory language. Even with a new Australian government, China is still referred to in dark tones of anger and enmity. Ms Pelosi can be seen as bolstering this militarism, with terrifying prospects.
In an increasingly complex and stressed world, nations cannot afford to be two-faced when it suits. As in life, they cannot tell lies and expect no consequences, especially if those lies escalate tensions and use proxies to fight ideological (and, Fates forbid, physical) wars. The West must realise their days of hypocrisy and rule are over. They can no longer hold others to ransom or blackmail them with military might and economic sanctions.
If we cannot hold frank dialogue with each other and help those in need of assistance, the planet is doomed. With Ms Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, it shows the ugly face of US diplomacy and the blatant disregard for the sovereignty of other nations.
We should recognise it for what it is — not only has the Emperor no clothes, but he is wearing the mask of Janus.
Source: Anthony Leong on Medium, 5 August 2022. https://anthony-leong.medium.com/nancy-pelosi-janus-of-the-west-8d4ca6161fcd
Author: Anthony Leong is a member of the editorial team of China Environment Net on Facebook.