After former US House of Representatives Speaker (2nd in line to US president after the Vice President) Nancy Pelosi travelled to Taiwan and met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (see August 2, 2022 visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan) China's military executed extensive unprecedented activity around Taiwan in a demonstration of threatening force.

While US congress members from both houses have visited Taiwan many times and met with Tsai, this was likely perceived very differently by China due to Pelosi's perceived level of importance as 2nd in the line of succession to the US presidency.

Tsai is now scheduled to meet current US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, April 6, 2023.

CNN's April 2, 2023 Beijing warns of ‘severe impact’ on US-China relations as Taiwan’s leader lands in New York says:

Tsai’s US transit could lead to a “serious” confrontation in the US-China relationship and have a “severe impact” on their ties, China’s charge d’affaires Xu Xueyuan told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

“What the US has done seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xu said, adding that the US should bear “all consequences.”

Tsai’s travels have been under particular scrutiny following reports that she will meet US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during one of her unofficial stopovers in the US – a potential event Beijing has vowed to “resolutely fight back” against should it go ahead.

Taiwan has not confirmed such a meeting nor provided details of Tsai’s itinerary while in the US.

Beijing launched extensive, days-long military exercises around the island last August, following a visit from then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

Pelosi was the highest ranked American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and the trip sparked accusations from Beijing that the US was changing the nature of its relationship with Taiwan – a claim US officials have repeatedly refuted.

In the 21st century, two individuals can talk electronically any time they want, and these conversations can generally be made as public, or as secure as they like, especially when implemented with state-level technology.

So I assume it's not the exchange of words that bothers China, but the visibility, the "optics" they wish to address with "vow(s) to 'resolutely fight back'" against a meeting.

I'm curious if threats related to the possibility of meetings is primarily a Chinese thing, or if there are similar phenomena by other countries. So I'd like to ask:

Question: Besides China (as exemplified by it's statements about Taiwan's president meeting US Speakers, e.g. "Tsai better not meet with the US House Speaker or else we'll do things to retaliate" (loosely paraphrased)), are there other examples of such threats by other countries in retaliation to meeting and talking in a publicly visible way in other contexts?

  • "of such threats" Where do you draw the line for "such"? Would an interview with Dmitry Medvedev saying that Russia would use nuclear weapons if it was defeated in Ukraine count as such a form of coercion? I think it's pretty common in politics. Apr 4, 2023 at 7:31
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    When you ask "other examples of such threats by other countries" do you mean other countries supporting China or other countries who have similar territorial issues and their reaction to foreign scrutiny of it?
    – sfxedit
    Apr 4, 2023 at 7:52
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    Do Chinese statements about Tibet and the Dalai Lama count? It's not about Taiwan ;-) Apr 4, 2023 at 20:14
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    Are you only asking about meetings?
    – Allure
    Apr 5, 2023 at 7:15
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    @Allure yes, I'll also emphasize that at the end with some boldification as well. Thanks! I'm asking about threats in retaliation to folks from high positions "simply" meeting and talking in a publicly visible way. I put "simply" in quotes because apparently there's nothing necessarily simple about meeting and talking in a publicly visible way. Apr 5, 2023 at 7:26

2 Answers 2


Back in 1998, Hafez El-Assad's Syria was hosting Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of PKK, a Turkish Kurds' Organization that took both political and guerilla actions.

Turkey was quite angry about it and made explicit threats:

Turkey threatened to invade unless Syria curbed PKK activity in its territory. This approach worked. Syria kicked Ocalan out of the country, whereupon he was apprehended by Turkish officials, with American assistance, and sent to prison.

Other possible examples that come to mind and need further investigation are China's reaction to people meeting with the Dalai-lama, or USSR threats to countries meeting Trotsky or Tito.

  • To me, asking to "cur(b) PKK activity in its territory" seems to be a lot more than asking two people to not meet publicly and "simply" talk to each other. We may have to be prepared for the possibility that the answer is "No, there are not other examples, at least in recent history; it does indeed seem to be mostly a 'Chinese thing'." Apr 5, 2023 at 8:24

I think there would not be many examples of similar behaviour simply because it is a matter of "Mian Zi" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_(sociological_concept) This is an East Asian concept, but the fact this term uses Chinese pronunciation should tell you something. Meeting with an individual/group whose stated goal, or mere existence threatens what the Chinese government believes is their core interest (mostly about territory) make them feel like their core interest is not respected, and thus "a slap in the face".

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