Beijing hints at military response to US House Speaker's visit to Taipei
China is extremely annoyed at the possibility of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Washington fears that the trip could provoke Beijing into decisive action. Chinese commentators, for their part, are hinting at a “military response.”
Photo: Global Look Press
Biden administration officials are concerned that China may attempt to declare a no-fly zone over Taiwan ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's possible visit to disrupt the trip, which could further heighten tensions in the region, a US official told CNN.
Beijing could also retaliate by sending fighter jets further into Taiwan's self-proclaimed air defense zone, which could provoke reactions from Taipei and Washington, the official added. They didn't elaborate on exactly what a possible response would entail.
In recent months, China has repeatedly deployed warplanes to Taiwan's self-declared air defense zone, which does not violate any international law, but usually results in Taipei taking precautions, including occasionally taking off its own fighters.
Chinese aircraft did not enter the territorial airspace of the island — an area extending 12 nautical miles from its coastline.
The US State Department urged China to stop bullying Taiwan.
As CNN notes, citing three people familiar with the planning process, Nancy Pelosi is planning a trip to Taiwan in the coming weeks.
While other members of Congress and former US officials visited the island this year, Pelosi will become the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, after then-Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997.
In recent months, tensions have escalated between Washington and Beijing over the Taiwan issue. The Chinese Communist Party has long claimed that Taiwan is part of its territory and has repeatedly vowed to “reunite” with an island of 24 million people — by force if necessary. The US has committed to providing Taipei with the means to defend itself, although recent arms sales to Taiwan have been slow to come in, raising concern among US lawmakers.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington referred in a comment to CNN to a statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in which he strongly objected to Pelosi's possible visit when asked to comment on airspace concerns.
President Joe Biden mentioned US military concerns about Pelosi's possible trip earlier this week. “I think the military thinks this is a bad idea right now, but I don’t know what the status is, — Biden said Wednesday when asked if it was a good idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.
Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military “generally” inform decision makers about military action assessments. “We talk about what the enemy can do, discuss logistics, military plans and readiness,” — Butler said. He declined to say whether the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, had spoken to Pelosi about the proposed trip to Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi said it was important to show support for Taiwan but declined to discuss any travel plans, citing security concerns. Pelosi said she “accidentally” heard about Biden's comments about her possible visit, but claims that she did not hear anything directly from the president.
“I think the president meant that perhaps the military is afraid that my plane will be shot down , or something like that. I don't know for sure, — Pelosi said.
State Department officials also have some concerns, two sources said. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday sidestepped questions about the trip, calling it “hypothetical” for now. Price said when asked about the State Department's position on her possible visit.
Ned Price reiterated that the Biden administration remains committed to its one-China policy, noting that the US does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but does have “reliable unofficial” ones. relations with the island.
While expressing disagreement with Pelosi's possible visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that such a trip would “seriously violate the One China principle and the provisions of the three joint Sino-U.S. damage to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China».
Sabine Chang, a spokeswoman for Taiwan's official DC office, told CNN that Taipei “has not received any information about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's planned visit to Taiwan.”
In China, the US administration's doubts about the appropriateness of Pelosi's provocative trip from Beijing's point of view were perceived as a response to China's dissatisfaction. Chinese observers believe the Biden administration has clearly taken China's message of a possible diplomatic and military response that the United States cannot afford, writes the Beijing-based Global Times.
Amid the risks of worsening relations with China and a 40-year high inflation, the Biden administration urgently needs to seek high-level engagement with China, but Chinese observers warn that Biden could use that engagement in exchange for China's compromise on future bilateral trade agreements or concessions on its stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict rather than out of intentions to sincerely correct their mistakes, but “China will not buy such a ploy.”
As Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times, Biden may share the US military's concerns about the planned trip. Pelosi as the US government knows that Pelos' planned visit and “playing with fire” and could seriously exacerbate tensions on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, possibly triggering a reaction from the Chinese military.