House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will be visiting Taiwan during her tour of Asia despite warnings from China and the risk of provoking a major crisis across the Taiwan Strait, several Taiwanese and Western media outlets reported on Monday.
Sources told Reuters that Pelosi was due to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday and spend the night on the island. A US official told CNN that the Pentagon is preparing for her trip and is monitoring Chinese forces in the region. The Financial Times reported that Pelosi will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.
Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation in the Asia Pacific that departed for the region on Sunday. In a press release, her office said the delegation would be visiting Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan but made no mention of Taiwan. The first stop for the delegation was in Singapore, where they arrived on Monday.
Pelosi is making the trip to Taiwan even though the Biden administration has warned against it and the US military doesn’t think it’s a “good idea.” China has made clear that it will respond strongly to the visit, something Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian reiterated on Monday, warning that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will not sit “idly by.”
“We want to once again make it clear to the US side that the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality and that the People’s Liberation Army of China will never sit idly by, and we will make resolute response and take strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.
The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command posted a video on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, that warned the military force would “bury incoming enemies,” although it didn’t mention Taiwan or Pelosi by name.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the administration will support Pelosi’s trip. “We want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely and we’re going to make sure of that,” he said.
China views Pelosi’s planned visit as a major provocation because she is a high-level US government official, and it signals that Washington is moving away from the one-China policy. Beijing maintains that it seeks peaceful reunification with Taiwan but has warned the US repeatedly that the issue is a redline and that US support for the island’s “independence forces” will lead to war.