Although the US doesn’t have official diplomatic ties to Taiwan, the country believes in Taipei’s right to self-defense and has sent weapons there to support this stance. Still, no US Speaker of the House has visited since Newt Gingrich in 1997. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been unclear if Speaker Nancy Pelosi would go to Taiwan on her tour through Asia. China has warned against it, even suggesting that her plane could be shot down.
Now, though, Pelosi is expected to turn up in Taiwan. President Biden’s national security and military advisers still caution Pelosi about taking the trip, but she’s likely to go anyway, according to US and Taiwanese officials familiar with the itinerary. Although her plans are unconfirmed officially, it looks like she’ll arrive without an announcement. In the meantime, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the visit doesn’t change the status quo and the US doesn’t support Taiwan’s independence from China. The White House expects more of a response from China but said it would not be intimidated.
“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,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, adding, “As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see.”
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit, consistent with longstanding US policy, into some sort of crisis or conflict,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and a Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before, without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year,” Kirby said.
“Congress is an independent, coequal branch of government. The decision is entirely the Speaker’s,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in remarks to the UN on Monday.