House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan during her ongoing tour of Asia, CNN reported Monday, citing a senior Taiwanese government official and a US official. The Wall Street Journal reported Pelosi will visit on Tuesday and has meetings with Taiwanese officials on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. The trip comes after China threatened a “strong” response if Pelosi visits the island nation.
The visit is currently not on Pelosi’s public itinerary, likely due to China’s aggressive stance toward the visit. While it is unclear when Pelosi will arrive in Taiwan, the Taiwanese government source said she is expected to remain on the island overnight.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would have “egregious political impact,” reiterating that China’s People’s Liberation Army “won’t sit by idly” if the Chinese Communist Party believes its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” is threatened.
“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,” Zhao Lijian told reporters when asked about China’s response to Pelosi visiting Taiwan.
“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
The US official told CNN that the Pentagon is working day and night to keep Pelosi safe, echoing officials’ previous claims that the U.S. military may use fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets, and other military systems to protect the speaker during her flight and throughout her trip to the island. The U.S. has already deployed an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
“She’s definitely coming,” one source told Wall Street Journal. “The only variable is whether she spends the night in Taipei.”
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said the Biden administration is working to make sure Pelosi travels “safely and securely.”
“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. There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason for any actions to be taken. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby said during an appearance on CNN.
“We shouldn’t be as a country – we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her,” Kirby continued.
When asked if the Biden administration is prepared for China’s response to Pelosi’s visit, Kirby said that “there is no change to our policy. No change to our focus on trying to keep a free and safe and open Indo-Pacific.”
Pelosi earned rare bipartisan support in Congress for her plans to travel to Taiwan.
“It is Speaker Pelosi’s decision alone on whether or not to travel to Taiwan, not any other country,” said Darin LaHood (R-IL). “In our democratic system – we operate with separate but equal branches of government.”
“It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to influence the ability or the right to travel for the speaker, members of Congress, or other US government officials to Taiwan or anywhere else around the world,” he added.