US warns China not to turn expected Pelosi trip to Taiwan into ‘crisis’

WASHINGTON. On Monday, the United States warned China not to respond to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected trip to Taiwan with military provocations, even as US officials tried to reassure Beijing that such a visit would not be the first of its kind and would not mean any change in policy toward the region.

As tensions escalated the day before, the White House said it was concerned that China could launch missiles into the Taiwan Strait, send military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone, or conduct large-scale naval or air operations that go beyond traditional boundaries.

“Beijing has no reason to turn a possible visit, in line with longstanding US policy, into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as an excuse to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” John F. Kirby said. This was reported to journalists by the representative of the National Security Council. “Meanwhile,” he added, “our actions do not pose a threat and do not reveal anything new. Nothing in this potential visit – a potential visit that, by the way, already had a precedent – will change the status quo.

But Beijing has made it clear that this has not reassured him. “We would like to reiterate to the United States that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take decisive action and take decisive countermeasures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Representative Zhao said. Lijiang. This was reported to journalists by a representative of the Foreign Ministry. “As for the measures, if she dares to go, then we’ll wait and see.”

The standoff over the speaker’s visit has strained nerves on both sides of the Pacific as the United States is already preoccupied with helping Ukraine fend off a Russian invasion. Even as they tried to prevent a confrontation in Asia on Monday, Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken and other officials announced a new Supply of weapons to Ukraine for 550 million dollars.

While the military, intelligence and diplomatic officials who briefed Ms. Pelosi warned before leaving for Asia that a stop in Taiwan could provoke a reaction that could spiral out of control, President Biden did not urge her not to leave out of respect for its status as the head of a separate, equal branch of government.

AT phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. Biden explained that he did not control the lady. Pelosi and, as a longtime former member of Congress, respected her right to make her own decisions. But US officials fear that China will not accept that it does not have the power to stop it.

mr. Blinken highlighted this point on Monday. “The speaker will decide for herself whether or not to go to Taiwan,” he said. “Congress is an independent, equal branch of government. The decision is entirely up to the speaker.

He added that members of Congress regularly visit Taiwan, including earlier this year. “So if the speaker decides to come and China tries to create some kind of crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, it will be entirely on Beijing,” he said. Blinken said. “We are looking for them, in case she decides to visit, to act responsibly and not be involved in any future escalation.”

Mrs. Pelosi, who arrived in Singapore on Monday, has not officially confirmed her plan to stop in Taiwan, citing security concerns. But local reports in Taiwan say officials have been informed that she will arrive either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning local time. She originally planned to visit Taiwan in April but canceled that trip after testing positive for the coronavirus.

US officials monitoring intelligence reports have become convinced in recent days that China is preparing some kind of hostile response—not a direct attack on Taiwan or an attempt to intercept Ms. Taiwan. Pelosi’s plane, some fear, is but a statement of military power that could go beyond even the aggressive clashes of recent months. Some have cited the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1995 and 1996, when China fired missiles to intimidate the self-governing island and President Bill Clinton ordered aircraft carriers into the area.

Analysts say such a conflict could be much more dangerous today because the People’s Liberation Army is much stronger than it was then, armed with missiles that can hit aircraft carriers. The worry is that even if no combat is expected, a random encounter can easily get out of hand.

“This is an exceptionally dangerous situation, perhaps more dangerous than Ukraine,” said Evan Medeiros, a China expert at Georgetown University and a former adviser to President Barack Obama on Asia. “The risks of escalation are immediate and substantial.”

At the White House, Mr. Kirby did not say whether US intelligence agencies had found any concrete signs of Chinese action, but he was remarkably specific in laying out the possible responses the United States was expecting.

White House officials in private expressed concern that Mrs. Pelosi’s visit will set off a dangerous cycle of escalation in Asia, while Washington is already busy helping Ukraine fight the Russian invasion. Much of America’s military-industrial complex is busy arming Ukraine, which could hinder efforts to boost arms supplies to Taiwan.

mr. Kirby said US officials did not necessarily expect a Chinese attack in retaliation, but warned that possible military displays of force could mistakenly provoke conflict. “It really increases the risk of miscalculation, which can lead to unforeseen consequences,” he said. Kirby said.

He appears to have been particularly keen to get the message across to Beijing that it should not view any visits by Mrs. C. Pelosi as yet another US provocation, as she would not be the first speaker to travel there; Speaker Newt Gingrich settled in Taiwan in 1997. Kirby also repeatedly stressed that the United States still adheres to its policy of one China and non-recognition of Taiwan independence.

“We’ve made it very clear if she leaves – if she leaves – it’s not unprecedented,” he said. “It’s not new. It doesn’t change anything.”

Although White House officials did not hope to contain Beijing, they decided to outline possible Chinese responses to lay the geopolitical ground in case of a provocation so that it does not come as a surprise.

But even if they manage the immediate conflict without escalating, officials fear the dispute will hasten an increasingly assertive stance by China, which has been moving in that direction in recent months. Analysts said Mr. Xi cannot afford to look weak ahead of the critical party’s convention in the fall, when he will run for a third term.

Just like Mr. Xi’s domestic politics was an important factor, so were Mr. Biden and Ms. Pelosi. Even if the speaker wants to cancel his stopover in Taiwan, it will be problematic at home, because it will be seen as an act of appeasement for a revanchist power. Republicans were especially vocal in urging her to continue the trip despite the Biden administration’s doubts.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said China should not pressure the United States over her trip. “I pray that the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party will remember the ancient but wise advice,” he tweetedto quote the aphorism: “When anger arises, think of the consequences.”

“We may have deep internal political divisions,” he added, “but we will respond with unbreakable unity if we are threatened from abroad.”