‘Not a good idea’: Biden on Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan

U.S.

(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden deferred to the military when responding to a question about his thoughts on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan in an interview Wednesday.

“Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” Biden said to a reporter after Air Force One’s arrival from Rhode Island to Joint Base Andrews. “But I don’t know what the status of it is.”

When Biden’s comments brought to Pelosi’s attention, she largely shrugged off the concerns.

“I think what the president was saying, maybe the military was worried our plane would get shot down by the Chinese. I don’t know exactly,” she said, speaking to reporters in the Capitol on Thursday.

Biden’s revelation of the U.S. military’s stance on Taiwan comes after his off-the-cuff remarks in Tokyo this past May, saying the U.S. would defend the island from a Chinese invasion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang denounced the idea of a visit by a U.S. political leader to Taiwan after the Financial Times reported Pelosi planned to move forward with her postponed visit to Taipei in the following month.

While Pelosi’s office declined to comment, citing longstanding security protocols as to why they cannot confirm or deny the speaker’s international travel in advance, Lijiang reportedly said such a trip would “severely undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, gravely impact the foundation of China-U.S. relations and send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces.”

Lijiang’s comments also mirror the ones he made following Pelosi’s announcement she would make the trip earlier this year, although she did not go due to catching COVID-19.

“China is firmly opposed to any form of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan,” Lijian said. “Relevant U.S. lawmakers should abide by the one-China policy upheld by the U.S. government. The U.S. should … stop official contacts with Taiwan, and avoid going further down the dangerous path.”

Taiwan is a self-ruled island claimed by China as part of its territory. While the U.S. has a longstanding commitment to the “One-China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the authority over all China, which by implication includes Taiwan, it also allows informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan. 

“We will continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao continued.

The news of Pelosi’s potential trip comes as tensions between the China and the U.S. have escalated in recent weeks.

In one instance, when the destroyer USS Benfold sailed in disputed waters in what the Navy calls “freedom of navigation operations,” the ship neared the Paracel islands. China called the U.S. a “maker of security risks” in their response.

In addition to unveiling America’s military stance on the issue, Biden said he planned to speak with Chinese President XI Jinping within the next two weeks.

If Pelosi were to travel to Taiwan, she would be the first speaker to visit the island since 1997.

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