Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit sparked international tension, but isn't likely to shake up her popularity with Chinese American voters at home in San Francisco

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, Taiwan, prompted warnings and threats from the Chinese government, but it is unlikely to upset her Taiwanese American and Chinese American constituents in San Francisco.

Pelosi left Taiwan on Aug. 3, 2022, after a whirlwind 24-hour trip, during which she met with lawmakers and Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan. While Pelosi defended her trip by writing that it shows the United States’ “commitment to democracy,” China responded with military drills and threats of future punishment for the U.S. and Taiwan.

Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, considers itself an independent country – while China maintains that it is a breakaway province it wants to again officially oversee.

Some experts called Pelosi’s trip reckless, threatening U.S.-China relations – but she won’t necessarily need to answer to her voting base in San Francisco, where there are 187,000 Chinese and Taiwanese Americans. Asian American studies scholar Jonathan H.X. Lee in San Francisco explains why many voters in this community are not intensely invested in the escalating political tensions in the South China region. Here are four key points to keep in mind.

This is unlikely to turn voters away from Pelosi

For many Chinese Americans it is just not an issue that’s really on their radar. Most are second- and third-generation Chinese Americans, and maybe sometimes even fourth-generation. They don’t have a lot of deep connections or nationalist kind of connections to mainland China.

If you were to ask a group of Chinese American college students about Taiwan, the majority would probably reflect the general kind of understanding that the general American public would have, which is not very much. They don’t know the history of Taiwan breaking off from China in 1949. So the reason this doesn’t register with Chinese American voters in San Francisco is that this geopolitical issue is just not on their list of major issues.

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