WASHINGTON, D.C. – Within the halls of Congress, some lawmakers had some of their focus on a tiny island thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) arrived in Taiwan on her visit to Asia, but the trip is sparking some controversy. Some members caution the trip could raise tensions with the U.S. and China but Pelosi is surprisingly finding some support in this visit.
“So I’m about to use four words in a row that I haven’t used in this way before and those four words are: Speaker Pelosi was right,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R- MO). “When she decided to include her visit to Taiwan on her visit to Asia.”
“It’s important that the speaker did go to Taiwan,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- KY). “I don’t think the Chinese can tell members of Congress where they can’t go.”
A handful of Republicans, including Senator Pat Toomey (R- PA) and Congressman Fred Keller (R- PA) said they support Pelosi’s visit. They add that this travel is consistent with the U.S. One China policy. Keller also tells us in a statement: “China feels emboldened because of President Biden’s weak leadership and is attempting to bully America into submission on a global stage. We need to get back to putting America first, but make no mistake, America will never be intimidated by the CCP’s threats.”
Here’s a bit of background on why the visit is stirring the pot with China: China does not recognize Taiwan’s independence and they claim the small island is a territory of China. The Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pledged to so-call “reunify” Taiwan with China by force if necessary. However, the U.S. has backed Taiwan for decades and Pelosi said her visit is a sign of America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy. She also added that the congressional visit did not contradict the U.S. policy on Taiwan.
As we expected, the Chinese are not happy about the third highest elected officials visiting Taiwan. Here’s what the Chinese ambassador told CNN:
“Her visit in whatever form and whatever time carries a high political sensitivity,” said Qin Gang, the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. “And it will result in the escalation of the tension across the Taiwan strait and the escalation in the U.S. China relations.”
To further complicate things, some worry that Pelosi’s visit could have implications in the Ukraine war. We know that President Biden has talked with the Chinese leader on staying out of the war. Some worry that this trip could help push China into aiding Russia.
Officials also warn that China could use this potential visit to justify military action in the Taiwan strait. Biden has said previously that the U.S. would use force if necessary to defend Taiwan.