More Republicans support Pelosi over potential Taiwan trip amid direct threat from China

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announced plans for a trip to Taiwan have soared Washington’s political divide, with President Joe Biden at odds over a visit to the self-governing island while prominent Republicans encouraged a political opponent. give what they generally despise.

Pelosi’s supporters include a conservative Republican senator, at least two former Trump administration officials and the last House speaker to visit Taiwan, also a Republican. They are urging Biden to support the trip even as China threatens a strong response if she goes.

Pelosi, D-Calif., has not publicly confirmed the trip. The White House and the speaker’s office have yet to challenge each other directly, and Biden has not publicly said Pelosi should not go.

Biden has made China’s growing influence a core part of his foreign policy ethos, but Biden-China relations are complicated and he has sought to avoid unnecessarily escalating tensions. China considers democratic, autonomous Taiwan its territory and has raised the prospect of annexation by force.

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The White House is gearing up for another call between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, a conversation the US president said he was looking forward to this week despite his COVID-19 diagnosis.

The growing chorus urging Biden to publicly support Pelosi also raises the risk that the president could be perceived as insufficiently tough on China.

“Speaker Pelosi should go to Taiwan and President Biden should make it clear to Chairman Xi that the Chinese Communist Party cannot do anything about this,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Monday. “There is no need for more weakness and self-righteousness. It is simple: Taiwan is an ally and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must meet with the men and women of Taiwan who face the threat of Communist China.

The White House on Monday declined to directly weigh in on Pelosi’s trip — including whether the speaker has Biden’s blessing — noting that she has not confirmed it.

“The administration routinely provides members of Congress with information and context for potential travel, including geopolitical and security considerations,” White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said, without directly responding to Pelosi’s possible plans. . “Members of Congress will make their own decisions.”

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State Department spokesman Ned Price also declined to comment on any concerns.

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“I will just restate our policy, and that is that we are committed to cross-strait peace and stability and to maintaining our ‘one China’ policy,” Price said, referring to the US position that Beijing is China. recognizes as the government of but permits. For informal ties and defense ties with Taipei.

Privately, the administration is particularly concerned that the confluence of upcoming events could make the Chinese response to Pelosi’s visit stronger and more dynamic than it might otherwise be, according to officials. The Chinese Communist Party congress, expected in November, in which Xi plans to further strengthen his grip on power, is one of those events.

International events in the coming months could also prompt China to react more forcefully than in the past if it believes its concerns are being ignored or its president is ignoring them, officials said. Being disrespected. These include the annual UN General Assembly in September and several summits in Asia — the G-20 in Indonesia, the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand — scheduled for October and November. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s approach.

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U.S. officials said the administration doubts China will act against Pelosi herself or try to sabotage her visit or otherwise interfere with the visit, but they said the administration does not rule out the possibility that China could take advantage of Taiwan. May increase provocative flights of military aircraft in or near it. Airspace and naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait if traveling. Officials also said the administration does not rule out that China could step up its operations outside Taiwan’s immediate vicinity as a show of force, potentially escalating military operations in disputed areas of the South China Sea. can increase

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Earlier Monday, Taipei held air strike drills and the island’s military held routine defense exercises amid heightened tensions over a possible visit, though there was no direct link between the drills and threats to Beijing when Pelosi spoke. traveled

The Chinese generally do not fully appreciate or understand the concept of separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Those distinctions for him are further muddied because the last time House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan, he was speaker of the Republican-controlled House under a Democratic president.

Pelosi will visit at a time when Democrats control the House, Senate and White House, so there are concerns that the Chinese could see it as a move by the administration.

Gingrich himself tweeted in support of Pelosi on Monday: “What is the Pentagon thinking when it publicly warns against Speaker Pelosi going to Taiwan? If we are as afraid of the Chinese Communists as we are of a US House of Representatives.” Can’t even protect the Speaker, why should Beijing believe we can help Taiwan survive. Cowardice is dangerous.”

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Mark Esper, the defense secretary during the Trump administration, said on Monday that he had recently returned from Taipei and that more top US officials should visit to help shape US policy in the region. He also stressed that China should not have veto power over the travel of US officials.

“I think if the speaker wants to go, she should go,” Esper said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Republican who served in the Trump administration, tweeted on Sunday: “Nancy, I’ll go with you. I’m banned in China, but not in libertarian Taiwan.” See you there!”

Biden expressed the U.S. government’s concerns about Pelosi’s potential visit last week, telling reporters after returning from Massachusetts that the military believed her visit was “not a good idea right now.”

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A spokeswoman for Pelosi declined to comment again Monday, citing security protocols. Last week, Pelosi said it was “important for us to show support for Taiwan” and that she believed Biden meant “maybe the military is afraid our plane is going to be shot down or something like that by the Chinese.” “.

Since being sworn into Congress in 1987, Pelosi has positioned herself as a lawmaker unafraid to stand up to Beijing. When she visited Tiananmen Square two years after the 1989 massacre, she defiantly waved a banner that read “For those who died for democracy. China.” Three years ago, Pelosi spoke out in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, drawing the ire of the Chinese government again.

He had planned to visit Taiwan in April, but postponed the trip after testing positive for COVID-19.

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