Was it unavoidable for US House Speaker and senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan at this juncture of heightened global tensions and in the run-up to a crucial meeting of China’s ruling party, where a leader working fervently for a norm-breaking third term at the top is already under pressure from domestic developments? The answer can only be in the negative. Has China’s response to the visit been in proportion to the deemed transgression of the norms of bilateral relations between the US and China? Again, the answer is in the negative. What happens is history, what ought to be is indulgence in counterfactuals, at least for purposes of identifying actionable imperatives.