Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to visit Taiwan during her trip across Asia, according to both U.S. and Taiwanese officials.
Taiwan will be the second country Pelosi visits during her trip, officials said Monday. The House speaker is almost certain to stop in the nation, and is only deciding at this point whether or not to spend the night in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
The question of whether Pelosi would visit the island nation was previously up in the air. When she left for her Asia trip Sunday, Pelosi’s office confirmed she would make stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, but did not mention Taiwan.
In the days leading up to Pelosi’s departure, China — which claims Taiwan as part of its territory — frequently warned that it would take “strong countermeasures” if the House speaker were to visit the self-governing island.
In a statement Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said a Pelosi visit to Taiwan would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and warned of “very serious developments and consequences.”
“We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said in a press briefing.
When asked how China would specifically respond, Zhao said, “If she dares to go, then let us wait and see.”
If Pelosi goes through with her visit, she will become the first Speaker of the House to visit Taiwan since 1997, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich stopped in the country. Gingrich previously urged Pelosi to go, calling the Biden administration’s opposition to the idea “timidity, covered by insecurity and an eagerness to appease people who aren’t Americans.”
“You have a woke Defense Department which is as timid as the State Department, which is really dangerous,” Gingrich said last week.
In the week before Pelosi’s departure, President Joe Biden mentioned that the military “thinks it’s not a good idea right now” for Pelosi to travel to Taiwan.