White House warns China against taking escalatory actions if Pelosi goes to Taiwan

The White House on Monday warned China against taking escalatory actions if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visits Taiwan during her trip to Asia this week, stressing that such a visit does not change anything.

“There’s just no reason for this to escalate,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “There’s every reason given the our national security interests — as well as the interest of our allies and partners that are that are staking the Indo Pacific on any given day — there’s every reason for this to not escalate.”

Pelosi will reportedly visit Taiwan on Tuesday during her tour of Asia, which kicked off on Monday when she went to Singapore. Beijing has warned that it firmly opposes a visit to Taiwan by the Speaker and that it would impact China-U.S. relations, vowing that China would take “strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing U.S. policy into some sort of crisis conflict or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.

Kirby noted on Monday that China is laying the groundwork for potentially more provocations and that China “appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days, and perhaps over a longer time horizon.”

“These potential steps from China could include military provocations, such as firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan,” he added.

The U.S. has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island that China considers to be part of its territory, which under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 includes a U.S. commitment to support Taiwan without a promise of direct engagement if China invades.

The White House has been in direct conversations with Pelosi and her staff before she left for her trip, Kirby said.

Biden last month said that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now” for the Speaker to make the trip. But, Kirby stressed that there’s no drama when it comes to a potential trip from the Speaker.

“Nothing has changed. There’s no drama to talk to. It is not without precedent for the Speaker of the House to go to Taiwan,” he said.

“Nothing about this potential, potential business — which, oh by the way, has precedent — would change the status quo and the world should reject any PRC effort to use it to do so,” he added.

He would not confirm if she is definitely going to visit Taiwan, but noted multiple times that it is not without precedent for a Speaker or members of Congress to go to Taiwan.

“The Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and the Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident as have many members of Congress, including this year,” he said.

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