(The Center Square) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf., arrived in Taiwan Tuesday despite threats from the Chinese government and fear the move could push China into military action.
In a statement Tuesday, Pelosi emphasized she has no desire to “change the status quo” in the region.
Taiwan is an independently governed country, but China still claims the island is under its rule, a small part of what has made Pelosi’s visit, the first time in over 25 years a House speaker has made the trip, so controversial.
“Our Congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” Pelosi said. “Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”
In anticipation of Pelosi’s trip, China’s leader Xi Xinping reportedly warned President Joe Biden that “those who play with fire will eventually get burned,” a comment that sums up rising tensions between the nations. Some have raised concerns that Xi may be close to invading Taiwan, especially given Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“Chinese state media just suggested the PLA should shoot down Pelosi’s plane if she travels to Taiwan,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said last week before Pelosi’s flight. “This would be a direct act of war. The U.S. does not take foreign policy demands from Communist China or any other belligerent bully.”
The White House said no military action is necessary.
“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. 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,” John Kirby, National Security Council Strategic Coordinator for Communications, told reporters Monday. “And yet, over the weekend, even before Speaker Pelosi arrived in the region, China conducted a live-fire exercise. China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and perhaps over longer time horizons.”