FPI / July 27, 2022
Joe Biden said unspecified U.S. military brass are advising against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan in a significant show of weakness by a U.S. leader to communist China which is now widely regarded as the top threat to U.S. national security.
Pelosi is scheduled to visit the island nation in August as part of a broader Asia tour. She would be the first House Speaker to go to Taiwan since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
“I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now. But I don’t know what the status of it is,” Biden told reporters last week.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is also reportedly against the trip.
China has warned of a major response if Pelosi goes through with the visit to Taiwan.
On July 19, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “If the U.S. insists on going down the wrong path, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”
The Financial Times reported that “six people familiar with the Chinese warnings said they were significantly stronger than the threats that Beijing has made in the past when it was unhappy with U.S. actions or policy on Taiwan.”
The Military Times noted: "China has not said what specific actions it would take, although speculation has centered on a new round of threatening military exercises or even an attempt to prevent Pelosi’s plane from landing by declaring a no-fly zone over Taiwan."
After being informed of Biden's comments about her trip to Taiwan, Pelosi told reporters she thought what Biden as saying is "maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down or something like that by the Chinese. I don’t know exactly. I’ve heard it anecdotally,” but not from Biden.
“If the U.S. is determined to make [a visit] happen, they know China will take unprecedented tough measures and the U.S. must make military preparations,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at Beijing’s Renmin University.
“Expect huffing and puffing, maybe some fire-breathing, military posturing, and perhaps economic punishment of Taiwan,” said Michael Mazza, a defense and China expert at the American Enterprise Institute.
China has also warned about the timing of a Pelosi visit. The anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army — the military branch of the ruling Communist Party — falls on Aug. 1, a date used to stoke nationalism and rally the troops.
China doesn’t want to create a “crisis for crisis’s sake,” but could try to use the Pelosi visit to advance its agenda, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert on Chinese military affairs and foreign policy at Stanford University.
China might take the opportunity to test out capabilities through a large-scale amphibious exercise, which it would justify as a response to an “aggressive move” by the U.S., Mastro said. “So I think they’ll use it as an opportunity to make advances that could be problematic, but [which] they wanted to do anyway regardless of the Pelosi visit.”
Free Press International