US 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 US official, despite warnings from Biden administration officials, who are worried about China’s response to such a high-profile visit.
The stop is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when US-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 US official added that 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 US 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, when asked about the fallout from Pelosi leading a congressional delegation to Taipei.
“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
Though China’s military did not mention Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said it would “bury incoming enemies” in a video posted online Monday showing off its weaponry and fighting tactics. “Firmly stand by and ready for the fighting command; Bury all incoming enemies,” a message posted on Weibo said.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Monday that the Biden administration will support Pelosi on a trip to Taiwan.
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.
“The question of Taiwan is the most sensitive, important core issue in China-US relations,” said Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang at the Aspen Security Forum in July.
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, reports claim.