August 2, 2022
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan as part of her tour of Asia, according to a senior Taiwanese government official and a U.S. official—despite warnings from Biden Administration officials, who are worried about China’s response to such a high-profile visit, reports CNN.
China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province destined for reunification, and strongly objects to all acts that appear to support Taiwan as an independent sovereign state, according to the BBC. Already, the People’s Republic has threatened to shoot down Pelosi’s plane, should it navigate into the Taiwan area.
The stop in Taiwan—the first for a U.S. House speaker in 25 years—is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when U.S.-China relations are already at a low point.
The Taiwanese official added that she is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. It is unclear when exactly Pelosi will land in Taipei.
The U.S. official added that U.S. Defense Department officials are working around the clock on monitoring any Chinese movements in the region and securing a plan to keep her safe.
During a regular foreign ministry briefing Monday, China warned against the “egregious political impact” of Pelosi’s planned visit to the self-governing island that China claims as a part of its territory and reiterated that its military “won’t sit by idly” if Beijing feels its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” is being threatened.
“We would like to tell the U.S. once again that China is standing by, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by. China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, adding, “As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
National Security Council coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Monday that the Biden Administration will support Pelosi on a trip to Taiwan.
“We want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely and we’re going to make sure of that.”
Asked if the United States was prepared for fallout with China over the visit, Kirby said, “… there is no change to our policy. No change to our focus on trying to keep a free and safe and open Indo-Pacific.”
What’s more, he stated, “There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason for any actions to be taken. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.”
“We shouldn’t be as a country—we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.”
The issue of Taiwan remains one of the most contentious. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed it at length in a two-hour-and-17-minute phone call on Thursday, as tensions mounted between Washington and Beijing.
While Biden has said publicly the US military did not believe it was a good time Pelosi to visit Taiwan, he has stopped short of telling her directly not to go, according to two sources.
Research contact: @CNN