Both China, White House Wary of Pelosi's Travel Plans

House speaker reportedly will visit Taiwan soon
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Pelosi's Travel Plans Have White House, Beijing Worried
House speaker Nancy Pelosi in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Unconfirmed reports that Nancy Pelosi is planning a trip to Taiwan have most definitely caught the attention of China. Authorities in Beijing are making clear through private and public channels they would view such a trip as a provocation, one that would trigger a strong response. However, what "strong" means is unclear at the moment.

  • Private: Over the weekend, the UK's Financial Times reported that Chinese authorities had issued unusually stern private warnings to US officials, per Bloomberg. These were "significantly stronger" than warnings over previous spats, and the FT story cited a "possible military response."
  • Public: On Monday, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry confirmed the anger about the possible trip, reports Reuters. "We are seriously prepared," said Zhao Lijian, though he didn't directly answer when pressed about a possible military response. "If the US side is bent on going its own way, China will take strong measures to resolutely respond and counteract," he said. He added that the US "should be held responsible for any serious consequences."

  • Possibilities: The AP reports that speculation about what China might do includes aggressive military exercises or even an attempt to prevent Pelosi's plane from landing. "If the US is determined to make (a visit) happen, they know China will take unprecedented tough measures and the US must make military preparations," Shi Yinhong of Beijing's Renmin University tells the outlet. Michael Mazza of the American Enterprise Institute suggests "huffing and puffing" and possible "economic punishment of Taiwan" as other outcomes.
  • Stepping back: Pelosi herself has not officially announced any such trip, let alone talked about when it might happen; word of the possible trip has come via media sources. (The reports that surfaced this month, such as this one in Politico, suggested August.) Last week, President Biden appeared to cast doubt on the trip by saying, "I think that the military thinks it's not a good idea right now, but I don't know what the status of it is."
  • White House: The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is concerned about how such a trip might harm US-China relations, but the story says Biden has not explicitly talked to Pelosi about it or asked her not to go. On Friday, Pelosi cited security concerns in declining to talk about travel plans. As for Biden's comments, "I think what the president was saying is the—maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down or something like that by the Chinese," she said. "I don’t know exactly."
  • The fear: In a story about all this, the Washington Post reports that White House officials fear a "major crisis across the Taiwan Strait" should Pelosi go. She would be the first House speaker to visit the island—which is self-ruled but which China claims as its own—in 25 years. The response from China might be particularly aggressive because the Communist Party Conference meets in a few months, notes the story.
(Read more Taiwan stories.)

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