June 7, 2023

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White House warns China against escalation over Pelosi's possible visit to Taiwan

White House warns China against escalation over Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit, consistent with longstanding US policy, into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby told reporters on Monday. .

Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan As part of her ongoing tour of Asia, according to a senior Taiwanese government official and a US official. This is despite warnings from Biden administration officials, who are concerned about China’s response to such a high-profile visit. The stop – the first for a US House speaker in 25 years – is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at an all-time low.

Chinese government officials have stepped up their rhetoric ahead of Pelosi’s upcoming visit.

During a regular Foreign Ministry briefing on Monday, China warned of the “terrible political impact” of Pelosi’s planned visit to the self-ruled island that China claims as part of its territory. Chinese officials reiterated that the nation “will not stand idly by” if Beijing feels that its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” are threatened.

Although the Chinese military did not mention Taiwan, the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently released a video saying that it will “bury incoming enemies”, showing off its weapons and combat tactics.

While President Joe Biden said publicly before the Asia trip that the US military did not think the time was right for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, he did not directly tell her not to go, according to two sources.

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Biden discussed the trip with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call last week. Kirby told CNN MJ Lee during Monday’s White House briefing that Biden assured Xi that Pelosi, as a member of Congress, makes her own decisions about international travel.

This week, Biden administration officials repeatedly emphasized that China should not view Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a potential change in US policy.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated the administration’s position on Pelosi’s decision whether to visit Taiwan.

“Congress is an independent and equal branch of government,” Blinken said in remarks at the United Nations on Monday. “The decision is wholly speaking.”

Such a visit is a precedent among former congressmen visiting Taiwan, Blinken said, “If the speaker decides to visit and China tries to create some kind of crisis or escalate tensions, it will all be on Beijing.”

“We are looking for them, should you decide to visit, to act responsibly and not engage in any escalation in the future,” he added.

Kirby also reiterated on Monday on multiple occasions that “nothing has changed” regarding the US “one China policy”, which recognizes Taiwan as part of China.

“We will not take the bait and we will not engage in rattling of swords,” Kirby pledged, while keeping the United States “will not be intimidated,” and will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific while seeking to maintain lines of communication with Beijing.

He said the administration expects “to see Beijing continue to use inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation in the coming days,” but the United States remains focused on “trying to manage tensions and, quite frankly, managing one of the most important bilateral relations in the world…”

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Eric Cheung, Kylie Atwood, Alex Rogers, Kevin Liptak and Jennifer Hansler of CNN contributed to this report.