White House warns China against escalating over possible Pelosi trip to Taiwan

“Beijing has no reason to turn a possible visit, in line with long-standing 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,” the National Security Council said. John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator, told reporters on Monday.

Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan. as part of her ongoing tour of Asia, according to a senior Taiwanese government official and US official. This is despite warnings from Biden administration officials who are worried about China’s reaction to such a high-profile visit. The stop — the first for a speaker of the US House of Representatives in 25 years — is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at a low point.

Chinese government officials have stepped up their rhetoric ahead of Pelosi’s proposed trip.

During a regular briefing at the foreign ministry on Monday, China warned of “egregious political implications” of Pelosi’s planned visit to the self-governing island, which China claims is part of its territory. Chinese officials reiterated that the nation “will not sit idly by” if Beijing feels its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” are under threat.

And while the Chinese military did not mention Taiwan, China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command recently released a video saying it will “bury approaching enemies” while showing off its weaponry and combat tactics.

While President Joe Biden said publicly before the trip to Asia that the US military doesn’t think this is the right time for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, he refrained from directly telling her not to go, according to two sources.

And Biden discussed the trip with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone call last week. Kirby told M.J. Lee told CNN during a White House briefing on Monday that Biden stressed to Xi that Pelosi, as a member of Congress, makes his own decisions about international travel.

Biden administration officials have repeatedly said this week that China should not view Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a potential change in US policy.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reaffirmed the administration’s position on Pelosi’s decision whether she would visit Taiwan.

“Congress is an independent, equal branch of government,” Blinken said in a speech at the UN on Monday. “The decision is entirely up to the speaker.”

Blinken said such a visit had a precedent among former members of Congress who visited Taiwan, stating, “If the speaker does decide to visit and China tries to create some sort of crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, it will be all in Beijing.”

“We are looking for them, in case she decides to visit, to act responsibly and not be involved in any future escalation,” he continued.

Kirby on Monday also repeated repeatedly that “nothing has changed” about the US “One China Policy” recognizing Taiwan as part of China.

“We will not fall for the bait and saber rattling,” Kirby promised, while stating that the US “will not be intimidated” and will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific region, seeking to maintain lines of communication with Beijing.

He said the administration expects “in the coming days, Beijing will continue to use inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation” but that the US remains focused on “trying to manage tensions and, quite frankly, managing one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.” . .”

Eric Cheung of CNN, Kylie Atwood, Alex Rogers, Kevin Liptak and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.