God help me I’m defending Nancy Pelosi but this is such an obvious case of a slip of the tongue that I can’t let this nonsense go. Earlier today I saw this clip of Pelosi circulating on Twitter. She says “China is one of the freest societies in the world” and that line is being presented as if Pelosi has suddenly become a fan of mainland China.
NANCY PELOSI: “China is one of the freest societies in the world…” pic.twitter.com/8yN8W1q4CA
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 9, 2022
The clip was quickly picked up by others:
“China is one of the freest societies in the world.” pic.twitter.com/rAhFtrqUXR
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) August 9, 2022
And so on:
Nancy Pelosi: “China is one of the freest societies in the world”
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 9, 2022
If you look at the reactions to this, there are quite a few people shocked that Pelosi would praise China. I don’t know if they really believe it or if they’re just pretending to believe it to generate clicks but, for example:
Probably sounds better in Mandarin but I think we all get what she’s doing. https://t.co/5EXYT5uHh4
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) August 9, 2022
— 🇺🇸🇺🇸Wayne Stevens🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@TheWaynerS) August 9, 2022
Pelosi thinks that the Communist Dictatorship in China is "one of the freest societies in the world," which may explain why the Democrats are now emulating the same authoritarian tactics here at home, that the Chinese Communist Party uses against their political opposition! https://t.co/x30ebv5eaf
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 9, 2022
There are hundreds of people reacting this way, i.e. as if Pelosi is suddenly spewing pro-China propaganda. But it’s pretty obvious that in this case that wasn’t her intent. What happened here is that she simply misspoke. What she meant to say was “Taiwan is one of the freest societies in the world” but she slipped up and said China by accident.
How do I know? Well, four reasons. First, Pelosi has been a China hawk for 30+ years. Shortly after Tiananmen Square she went to China and unfurled this banner in remembrance of the people who died there.
— 🇹🇳BEN YOUSSEF Belhassen بن يوسف بلحسن (@BBYBENYOUSSEF) August 2, 2022
And obviously that’s why she was so motivated to visit Taiwan in what is almost certainly her final few months as Speaker. The White House and the Pentagon were encouraging her to reconsider and she went anyway.
Reason two is that if you listen to the full statement she’s clearly referring to Taiwan: “We go there to acknowledge the status quo is what our policy is. There is nothing disruptive about that. It was only about saying China is one of the freest societies in the world.” Where was the “there” that she went? It was Taiwan obviously, not China.
Third, Pelosi specifically mentions that the determination of freedom isn’t hers alone but came from Freedom House. And sure enough, Freedom House rated Taiwan as “Free” in 2022. China, by contrast, was rated “not free” by Freedom House.
And that brings me to the fourth reason I know this was a slip of the tongue. I’ve heard this same line before during her visit. Here she is saying almost the same line: “In terms of governance, we commend Taiwan for being one of the freest societies in the world.”
China has furiously condemned the highest level US visit to Taiwan in 25 years.
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 3, 2022
So what happened here is that Pelosi was trying to repeat one of the talking points she used on her Taiwan trip and she had a slip of the tongue and said “China” instead of Taiwan. Taiwan is formerly called the Republic of China so maybe that’s where she got her wires crossed. But the point is, she’s not suddenly switching sides one week after her trip to Taiwan.
Of course it’s not terribly helpful to make a gaffe like this when you’ve put yourself at the center of the global discussion about Taiwan. She really needs to be a bit more careful. But in the meantime this is a silly story that really doesn’t deserve the attention it’s getting.