House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan this week despite warnings from the Biden administration that the trip could provoke an angry Chinese response, CNN reports.
Pelosi is expected to visit Taipei during her ongoing trip to Asia, which would be the first time a House speaker visited the country in 25 years.
The visit is not on Pelosi’s schedule but US and Taiwanese officials told CNN that she is expected to stay overnight.
The Biden administration has issued warnings about Pelosi’s trip, worrying that it could provoke China. But even Republicans have defended her decision.
"It is Speaker Pelosi's decision alone on whether or not to travel to Taiwan, not any other country," said Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood, the top Republican on Congress’ US-China working group. "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.”
China warned that its military “won’t sit by idly” if it feels its "sovereignty and territorial integrity" is being 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," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
"As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let's wait and see," he added.
White House defends:
Despite Biden acknowledging that the military opposed the trip, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the administration will support Pelosi.
"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," he told 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," he added.