Pelosi travels to Taiwan despite warnings from Xi and Biden

US officials have concluded in recent days that China’s belligerent threats against the speaker were simply a bullying tactic, the congressional official said. Meanwhile, White House spokesman John Kirby on Monday warned China against overreacting to Pelosi’s visit and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the so-called « One China » policy. .

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit, in accordance with long-standing US policy, into some kind of crisis or conflict,” Kirby said, noting that members of the Congress visited the island as recently as earlier this year.

A senior US defense official told reporters on Friday that there had been no significant redeployment of US military assets to the region in response to Chinese rhetoric surrounding the speaker’s trip, but several warships were already in the South and East China Seas.

Kirby warned that China could fire missiles into the Taiwan Strait, something Beijing hasn’t done in a quarter of a century.

President Joe Biden’s military and national security advisers had warned Pelosi against the visit, POLITICO previously reported, given heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. In a phone call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Biden that when it comes to Taiwan, « those who play with fire will eventually get burned. »

Beijing sees Taiwan as an inseparable part of China and has strongly challenged what it sees as US interference in internal affairs.

Meanwhile, in Washington, fears have grown in recent months that Xi is planning to invade the island. The United States has maintained its « One China » policy and has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but has asserted Taipei’s right to self-defense and sent billions of dollars worth of weapons to bolster its arsenal. .

Pelosi was in Singapore on Monday as part of a four-country trip across Asia. She is also due to visit Malaysia, South Korea and Japan during the trip. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.) and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) are among the lawmakers accompanying Pelosi.

« We look forward to productive meetings that will continue to inform the work of Congress to advance our values ​​and interests and strengthen our partnerships in the region, » Pelosi said in a statement over the weekend.

His office declined to confirm his travels to Taiwan, citing security risks for the speaker, who is second in line to the US presidency. POLITICO retains Pelosi’s expected arrival date.

In recent weeks, the clash between Pelosi and the Biden administration over his travel plans has spilled into the public eye. Biden himself had said the military « thinks it’s not a good idea right now » for Pelosi to go to the island.

Although Pelosi declined to address her travel plans, she told reporters on Friday that Congress should play a bigger role in promoting Biden’s security goals in the Indo-Pacific, noting that « we have global responsibilities ».

Pelosi has been among China’s most consistent hawks over the past three decades, even taking on his own party over the threat Beijing poses to US security and economic interests. She has championed human rights concerns in China, including the genocide of Uyghur Muslims and the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

American and Taiwanese figures have become bolder in showing their support for the relationship, angering China in the process. Bi-khim Hsiao, the Democratic Island’s de facto representative in the United States, attended Biden’s inauguration. Four months later, US Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland became the first serving US envoy to visit Taiwan since Washington severed official ties with Taipei in 1979.

And China’s aggression has led current and former officials, including lawmakers on both sides, to push for a sweeping change in America’s stance toward Taiwan, including abandoning the so-called doctrine of « strategic ambiguity » that has guided US policy toward Taiwan for the past four decades.

Biden himself has said three times that the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan in the event of an attempted invasion by China – apparently clearing up the ambiguity – but he and his officials continue to insist that there has been no change in US policy in Taiwan.

On Monday, China’s Maritime Security Administration announced a new series of military drills in the South China Sea from Aug. 2-6, building on a series of live-fire artillery drills announced last week. Monday also marks the 95th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, a time when drills normally step up to mark the occasion.

The Japan-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has been patrolling the South China Sea since last week, and late last month the destroyer USS Benfold transited the Taiwan Strait three times in one week – a gesture that Beijing called a “provocation”. it considers the narrow waterway between mainland China and Taiwan to be part of its internal waters.

Paul McLeary contributed to this report.


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