The stop — the first for a US House speaker in 25 years — is currently off Pelosi’s public route and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at an all-time low.
The Taiwanese official added that she is expected to stay overnight in Taiwan. It is unclear when exactly Pelosi will land in Taipei.
During a regular foreign ministry briefing Monday, China warned of the “major political impact” of Pelosi’s planned visit to the self-governing island that China claims as part of its territory and reiterated that its military “will not sit idle” if Beijing feels its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” is under threat.
“We want to tell the US once again that China is standing by and that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never stand by. China will react decisively and take strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters. , when asked about the consequences of Pelosi leading a congressional delegation to Taipei.
“As for what measures, if she dares to go, let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Monday that the Biden administration will support Pelosi on a trip to Taiwan.
“We want to make sure that when she travels abroad she can do it safely and securely and we are going to make sure of that. There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason to take action. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.”
“We shouldn’t be as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those possible actions. This is an important journey for the speaker and we’re going to do everything we can to support her,” Kirby continued.
Asked if the US was prepared for the fallout from China during the visit, Kirby said that “nothing changes in our policy. No change in our focus on trying to maintain a free and safe and open Indo-Pacific.”
“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive and important core issue in China-US relations,” China’s ambassador to the US Qin Gang said at the Aspen Security Forum in July.
Biden said last month that the US military opposed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but has since declined to elaborate on the warnings. The White House has said it is up to the Speaker of the House where she travels, and they have little say in her decision.
Still, government officials have worked in recent weeks to clarify the risks of visiting Taiwan in meetings with Pelosi and her team. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said he had discussed a visit to Asia with Pelosi.
The government takes extra care of Pelosi’s safety when she travels abroad, as she is in the presidential line of succession.
Government officials worry that Pelosi’s journey comes at a particularly tense time as Xi is expected to run for an unprecedented third term at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party Congress. Chinese party officials are expected to begin laying the groundwork for that conference in the coming weeks, putting pressure on leaders in Beijing to show strength.
Officials also believe that the Chinese leadership does not fully understand political dynamics in the United States, leading to a misunderstanding of the significance of Pelosi’s potential visit. The officials say China may mistake Pelosi’s visit for an official government visit, as she and Biden are both Democrats. Government officials are concerned that China does not separate Pelosi much, if at all, from Biden.
Pelosi has long been a critic of the Chinese Communist Party. She has met with pro-democracy dissidents and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who remains a thorn in the side of the Chinese government. In 1991, Pelosi unfurled a black and white banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate the victims of the 1989 massacre, which read, “To those who died for democracy.” In recent years, she has expressed her support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The Chinese embassy in the United States has objected to her expected trip, which was scheduled for April before Pelosi tested positive for Covid-19, and urged members of Congress to tell the speaker not to make it.
“I would say there has been a full court press from the Chinese embassy to discourage travel to Taiwan,” Washington Democratic Representative Rick Larsen, the co-chair of the US-China Congressional Working Group, told reporters. cnn. “I just don’t think it’s their business to tell us what to do. That was my message back.’
Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the US, replied that his office has “regular contact” with members of Congress, including Larsen.
“On the Taiwan issue, we have expressed our position loud and clear,” Pengyu said. “The embassy is making every effort to prevent the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the stability of relations between China and the US from being harmed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan.”
“We hope that serious consequences can be avoided,” he added. “This is in the common interest of both China and the US.”
Many Democrats and Republicans in Congress said it was Pelosi’s right to travel to Taiwan.
“It’s just the decision of Chairman Pelosi whether or not to travel to Taiwan, and not to another country,” said Darin LaHood, Larsen’s Republican counterpart in the US-China working group. “In our democratic system we work with separate but equal branches of government.”
“It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to influence the ability or right to travel for the speaker, members of Congress or other US government officials to Taiwan or anywhere in the world,” he added. ready.
Other members seemed more cautious about the diplomatically sensitive journey.
The California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, said she “has always supported Taiwan”.
But when asked whether a trip to Taiwan would send the wrong message, Chu said: “You can look at it two ways. One is that relations are very tense at the moment. But on the other hand, you could say that Taiwan then should also show the strength and support.”
When asked what she thought, she said, “I’ll leave it up to those who are going to make that decision.”
This story was updated on Monday with additional details.
Nectar Gan, Chandelis Duster and Betsy Klein of CNN contributed to this report.