All signs indicate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan this week during her trip abroad, despite warnings from China about the move and the Biden administration seeking to defuse the situation.
On Monday, CNN first reported that Ms. Pelosi planned to visit the island nation with a five-member delegation during her trip to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
China has warned that its military “will not stand idly by” if the House Speaker decides to visit.
Meanwhile, the White House said the US position on Taiwan remains what it has been for the past four decades and stressed that any visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would reflect neither a change in policy nor the wishes of the Biden administration.
Speaking at a White House press conference on Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Ms Pelosi had not publicly confirmed any travel plans and said the decision on whether or not to visit the island despite recent rattlesnakes by the Chinese government is hers alone because of the separation of powers set forth in the US constitution.
Mr. Kirby also noted that the island has previously hosted visits by members of the US Congress — including one by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1997 — and stressed that any such visit would be sui generis a fact which does not indicate the authority of the executive branch.
“The President has the right to visit Taiwan and a Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan in the past without incident, as have many members of Congress including this year,” he said. “Nothing has changed about our ‘one China policy’, which is, of course, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three US-PRC joint communiques. [and] the six assurances”.
Mr Kirby added that the US continues to oppose “unilateral changes to the status quo on either side”.
“We have said that we do not support Taiwan’s independence, and we have said that we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved through peaceful means,” he said. “Simply put, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing US policy into some kind of crisis or conflict, or to use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around its straits Taiwan”.
Earlier Monday, CNN and other news organizations reported that Ms. Pelosi’s trip with a five-member delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan had been extended to include a visit to Taiwan, including a planned overnight stay in the capital, Taipei. island. city. The Financial Times it also said Ms. Pelosi’s schedule would include a meeting with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.
According to Ms. Pelosi’s office, the trip is intended to focus on “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The topic of the House speaker’s possible trip to Taiwan occupied a significant part of the telephone conversation last week between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. According to a readout of the conversation released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi warned Biden that a visit to the island by Ms. Pelosi, who is second in line for the presidency, would be “a game[ing] with fire”.
Despite US assurances that US policy on Taiwan has not changed, Beijing has stepped up military activity in the region of the island, including conducting live-fire drills, and Mr Kirby said Chinese forces appeared to be “positioning ” for “further steps in the coming days,” including “military provocations such as launching missiles into or around the Taiwan Strait” or “operations that violate historical norms,” including a “large-scale air entry into the Air Defense Identification Zone of Taiwan”.
“We and countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one. Beijing’s actions could have unintended consequences that will only serve to heighten tensions,” he said, adding that the US “will not take the bait” or make any “swords” of its own.
He added that the US “will not be intimidated” and will continue normal military operations in the region as it has “for decades”.