According to several media reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to lead a delegation to Taiwan next month despite repeated warnings from China that the visit will escalate tension between Washington and Beijing.
Pelosi’s visit would mark the first time in 25 years that a sitting House speaker visited the island since Newt Gingrich made the trip in 1997. She was set to travel to Taiwan in April but canceled the trip after testing positive for Covid-19.
Responding to the news of Pelosi’s planned trip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian delivered a stern warning. He said if Pelosi goes through with the visit, China will “take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Zhao said that because Congress is part of the US government, it should follow the One China policy. Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 and typically sent former officials to represent US interests. But in recent years, Congressional delegations have become increasingly more common.
China has been responding to high-level US visits to Taiwan with military activity near the island. Earlier this month, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), a proponent of giving the president war powers to intervene if China attacks the island, traveled to Taiwan and met with President Tsai Ing-wen. Beijing responded by flying warplanes over the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait.
The revelation of Pelosi’s planned trip comes as the US has stepped up its military activity in the South China Sea. The US sailed warships into the disputed waters to challenge China’s claims last week after warning Beijing that it would intervene if China attacked Philippine vessels in the area.
While China always denounces US military activity in the region, the steps Washington is taking to increase ties with Taiwan appear to be more provocative toward Beijing. Back in January, China’s ambassador to the US warned that Washington’s support for “independence forces” on the island could lead to war between the two powers.