BEIJING (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time in four months to discuss a wide range of bilateral and international issues.
But the possibility of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan loomed in talks on Thursday, with China warning of harsh measures if she traveled to the self-governing island democracy that Beijing claims is its own territory respond.
China’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday Presidential phone. Spokesman Zhao Lijian, however, repeated China’s warning about Pelosi’s visit.
“If the U.S. insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will definitely receive a tough response,” Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular news conference. “All consequences arising therefrom shall be borne by the US side”
Pelosi’s office has not said when or even if she will continue to visit, but Timing is particularly sensitive Tensions have risen between Beijing and Washington over trade, human rights and Taiwan.
While the U.S. has sent cabinet secretaries and former top officials to Taiwan in recent years, Pelosi’s status as the top Democrat in Congress and second-in-line in line for success puts her in a separate category. The speaker has made confrontation with China a key feature of her more than 30 years in Congress.
While Biden has no power to prevent Pelosi from visiting, the authoritarian Chinese government has chosen to ignore the separation of powers in the United States, saying Congress is accountable to the government. In Beijing’s view, the fact that both belong to the Democratic Party reinforces the notion that Pelosi is somehow working with Biden’s consent.
Still, Biden told reporters last week that U.S. military officials believe it is “not a good idea” for the speaker to visit the island at this time. The Financial Times reported last week that Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan in August, originally scheduled for April, was delayed after she tested positive for COVID-19.
Pelosi will be the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan as House speaker in 1997.Gingrich and other prominent Republicans who are usually highly critical of Pelosi offered their encouragementsaying that China has no right to decide where Americans can travel.
China has not detailed what specific actions it will take, but experts say it could further intrude into waters and airspace near Taiwan, even beyond the median line of the Taiwan Strait that separates the two. Some speculate that China might even try to prevent her plane from landing, triggering a major crisis and is generally considered unlikely.
U.S. officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, the military will Increase the flow of troops and assets in the Indo-Pacific.
They declined to provide details but said fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems could potentially be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time she is there.
Yu Wanli, a professor of international relations at Beijing Language and Culture University, said a possible visit by Pelosi made it even more important for Xi and Biden to have meaningful discussions.
Despite opposition from both governments, Pelosi’s visit “has been hijacked by domestic politics in the United States, with pressure from the Republican Party and other forces not to show weakness to China,” Yu said.
“How China and the United States manage the Taiwan issue has become a top priority, and the talks between the leaders of the two countries are very timely and necessary,” he said.
Out of respect for China, the United States has only informal and defense ties with Taipei, but remains the island’s most important source of military and political support. The U.S. is legally obligated to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and treats threats to it as a matter of “serious concern.”
China has in recent years stepped up its threat to annex Taiwan by force if necessary, opposing all U.S. arms sales and engagement with the Taiwanese government.
It regularly conducts military exercises and flies warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, a warning to supporters of Taiwan’s formal independence and its foreign allies.
The two sides were divided in a civil war in 1949, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen rejected Beijing’s demands that she recognize Taiwan as part of China. Taiwanese public opinion strongly favors maintaining a de facto independent status quo without further angering Beijing.
Beyond Taiwan, North Korea’s nuclear program, Beijing’s close relationship with Russia, Biden’s efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, and the U.S. government’s scrutiny of the Trump administration’s tough tariffs on China are all likely to become focus of discussions between the two countries. lead.
Taiwan was a central topic during the last call between Biden and Xi in March, about three weeks after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. China has refused to criticize Russia’s move, accusing the United States and NATO of provoking Moscow and slamming punitive sanctions imposed on Vladimir Putin’s government and political cronies.