“Any member who wants to leave must. This is indicative of President Xi’s political containment,” said Texas Representative Michael McCall, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict. “But she should also turn her attention to the military if that triggers a retaliatory strike and escalates the situation.”
mr. Biden, who has repeatedly irritated China since taking office saying he will use force to protect Taiwan, said last week that the military felt it was not the right time for Ms. Pelosi leaves. There was talk of a possible danger, even suggesting that China would send military planes to spy on her aircraft. Some on Capitol Hill see this as a clumsy attempt by the White House to put pressure on the lady. Pelosi cancels any such trip, the first in the speaker’s 25 years, but Republicans and some Democrats have urged her to see things through rather than let Beijing dictate US action.
Gene. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him in Australia on Wednesday that he would ensure the safety of any speaker’s trip, as the armed forces traditionally do. “If a decision is made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else will travel and they ask for military support, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that their visit is conducted safely,” he said.
The conflict arises as the United States seeks to compete more actively with China economically and politically. Senate Wednesday took action investing in semiconductor manufacturing to revive American industry and reduce reliance on Chinese products. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a senior California Democrat, introduced separate legislation Wednesday allowing the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials or organizations helping Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Analysts said the move sparked outrage in Beijing. “The Chinese believe that Washington is deliberately provoking a crisis,” said Susan A. Thornton, senior fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School and a longtime professional diplomat who has worked in Asia politics. “I’m not sure what Biden could have said to convince them otherwise.”
But China has reacted more aggressively than in the past. Mrs. Pelosi first announced her plan to travel to Taiwan in April, but shelved it after testing positive for the coronavirus, and Beijing didn’t pay much attention at the time. Moreover, a number of other high-profile Americans recently visited the country, including high-ranking members of Congress and two former secretaries of defense, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, but this did not provoke a crisis.