The trip was rescheduled after Pelosi canceled an earlier visit planned for April.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at her weekly press conference, July 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. | Mariam Zuhaib/AP Photo
By Lara Seligman
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning a trip to Taiwan next month, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions, the first such visit for a House speaker in 25 years.
The trip, which was rescheduled after Pelosi (D-Calif.) canceled an earlier visit planned for April, comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over the island. Chinese ships and aircraft have repeatedly buzzed U.S. and allied aircraft over the East and South China Seas in recent months, including an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” interaction between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. special operations C-130 aircraft in June.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned that interaction during a visit to Singapore last month.
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea by [People’s Liberation Army] aircraft and vessels,” Austin said at the time. “This should worry us all.”
The news of Pelosi’s visit comes months after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed a delegation of former U.S. officials picked by President Joe Biden, including retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Michele Flournoy, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the island in March while former Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a visit. No U.S. speaker has visited the island since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Beijing strongly opposes the trip, which was first reported by the Financial Times. Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged U.S. officials to “strictly adhere to the U.S.’s one-China policy.”
“If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués and harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said Tuesday, warning that such a visit would have “a severe negative impact” on U.S.-China relations.
He also insisted Washington halt “official interactions” with Taipei and “stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait.” If not, he warned that China would take “strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
China considers Taiwan part of its territory and frequently objects to U.S. support for Taipei. Although the U.S. does not formally have diplomatic relations with the island, Washington has long supported Taiwan’s self-defense capability with arms sales and a close military relationship, as laid out in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.
Pelosi planned to visit Taipei in April after a stop in Japan but postponed the trip after she tested positive for Covid-19.
© 2022 POLITICO LLC