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An angry backlash was widely expected. China wasn’t going to let the provocation of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan go unanswered. Not with Chinese President Xi Jinping eyeing another five-year term, as he is seen to be. Any show of softness over American grandstanding at a time US-China relations are so testy will not wash with Xi’s local audience. And so, a day after Pelosi left Taipei, Beijing began flexing its military muscle. It fired multiple missiles in waters around the self-governed island China claims as its territory—the first such warning shots since 199.

A world reeling from the Russia-Ukraine war will be hoping that this is mere fireworks for home consumption, with no threat of escalation. Note how China blocked only trivial imports from Taiwan, taking care not to disrupt microchip supplies. But brinkmanship with weapons can misfire, and wars do get stumbled into. With its displeasure noted, China must back down, and the US should nuance its stance for safety within its backing of liberty. As a QUAD member, India wants a “free and open Indo-Pacific". Peace must prevail for that.

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