Micaela Burrow on August 11, 2022
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied that the military warned her against making a trip to Taiwan after the Biden administration’s concerns that her visit could cause a firestorm with China in a Wednesday press conference.
Pelosi’s Aug. 2 to Aug. 3 visit to Taiwan angered China, who called the trip a threat to China’s sovereignty, and set off a week of People’s Liberation Army live fire exercises in the waters around the self-governing island. In July, President Joe Biden said the military believed Pelosi’s then-unconfirmed trip was “not a good idea” as China ramped up threats of a “forceful” response some feared could include military action.
“All I can say is that we are very proud of our military. Their preparation… actually I think minimized the impact of the Chinese on our trip,” said Pelosi.
“We do not address questions about our travels before our trip, so in keeping with that I won’t comment on the comment the President made before our trip,” she added.
The Pentagon told the Daily Caller News Foundation it had nothing to add on this issue, citing a longstanding practice of consulting with U.S. officials who are considering travel.
China merely used Pelosi’s trip as a “pretext” for escalating its campaign in pursuit of reunification with Taiwan, Pelosi argued.
“They took very good care of us. I don’t remember them ever telling us not to go,” Pelosi said, referencing the U.S. military.
Behind the scenes, Pentagon and White House officials repeatedly communicated with Pelosi about the dangers of her trip, Politico reported in July. At the time, Pelosi denied that she had heard anything from Biden of that nature.
The Pentagon dispatched a U.S. Navy battle group to the Philippine Sea that encompasses Taiwan following reports it would provide surveillance, fighter jet escorts and maritime forces ahead of Pelosi’s reported visit. While the military did not believe China would do anything that might cause harm to Pelosi, it worried that her visit could spark a wider conflict between China and Taiwan.
The military also said diplomatic “soft power” was important to “complement what they are doing in the region,” Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York added.
Pelosi defended her trip as an affirmation of democracy in Taiwan and a show of U.S. support for the self-governing country, although the U.S. recognizes it as part of a broader China under the One China policy and has denied support for its independence.
I led a Congressional delegation to Taiwan to make crystal clear that America stands with the people of Taiwan – and all those committed to Democracy and human rights.
Check out this video of our historic visit to Taipei. pic.twitter.com/TON6zB3x4s
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 3, 2022
China’s aims to bring Taiwan fully under its control stretch back decades, rooted in what China claims are deep historical and cultural ties, but the People’s Republic of China has thus far pursued “peaceful reunification” and promised to allow Taiwan a measure of autonomy.
However, in an official policy document released Wednesday, the PRC omitted a previous clause precluding use of force to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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