As Pelosi looks ahead to Taiwan excursion, US anxious on China red lines

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As Pelosi eyes Taiwan trip, US anxious on China red lines

A possible trip in Taiwan from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has raised anxiety in the Biden administration, which is worried that the trip will override red lines for China — and there’s no way out.

China has warned on Monday that China that the country was “getting prepared” for the Pelosi trip to the self-governing island next month , and warned warning that it was adamant that the United States would “bear all liability for any grave consequences” should she go.

Biden has been open about his concerns, stating that the US military was against travel by Pelosi who is who is a colleague Democrat who is the second in the line to be president following the vice president.

Congress is a constitutionally equal government branch with legislators allowed to travel wherever they like. However, the administration worries that about the implications for Beijing who see the growing American acceptance of Taiwan as part of an plan to declare independence for the territory it claims.

The trip is likely to occur in a particularly turbulent time when the Chinese president Xi Jinping, China’s most influential leader for decades and is set to cement his rule later in the year during a crucial gathering of the party amid economic woes.

Pelosi hasn’t yet confirmed her visit, but she did tell reporters last week that it is “important that we show our support for Taiwan,” while denying Congress had pushed for independence.

Taiwan is supported by both parties in a divided Washington and China’s threats have only increased the calls for Pelosi to move forward.

“Speaker Pelosi should go to Taiwan and the president Biden should be able to make it evident that chairman Xi that there’s nothing a single thing that in the Chinese Communist Party can do to stop it,” Republican Senator Ben Sasse declared.

The Biden administration has acknowledged Beijing as the most powerful global rival, but has also spoke of “guardrails” to keep tensions from escalating into chaos and the two nations the top diplomats having friendly talks in Bali.

The risk of a ‘dramatic’ reaction

The Biden administration is facing “a real problem ” because should they turn back or try to stop Pelosi from joining them it alone, they’ll look weak and appear to be accepting Chinese techniques of intimidation –and China can be a bully” added Robert Sutter, a China expert at George Washington University.

China has not responded in a consistent manner to the congressional trips at Taiwan “but this visit appears like it’s quite grave,” he said.

“They could feel they must be dramatic should Pelosi does indeed land at Taipei.”

In advance of the meeting with the party, Xi may calculate that the trip “has exceeded his expectations” and that it’s time to demonstrate his strength in Taiwan, Sutter added.

China’s defeated nationalists fled 1949 to Taiwan that has since developed into a flourishing democracy as well as a technological leader. CIA Chief Bill Burns said last week that Xi seems to be firmly rooted in the possibility to use force in spite of lessons learned from Russia’s battles in Ukraine.

The United States in 1979 switched relations from Taipei to Beijing and subsequent administrations have made sure to only recognize “one China” by not sending top government officials over to Taiwan.

The previous House leader, Newt Gingrich, visited in 1997, but the Republican was a member of the opposition party to the White House and Beijing’s reaction was largely indifferent.

Gingrich on Monday attacked the Pentagon for its warnings against Pelosi’s visit. He wrote the following on Twitter: “If we are so intimidated by Chinese Communists we can’t even defend the American speaker of the House Why should Beijing think that we can help Taiwan to survive?”

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Pelosi is a long-standing opponent of China and has been a close friend of her friend the Dalai Lama and in 1991 outraged the Beijing hosts by erecting an unfurling banner in Tiananmen Square to honor the demonstrators for democracy killed in Beijing two years prior.

Officials from the past call for a rethink

As Beijing is rising, Washington has been shedding some of the earlier reservations regarding Taiwan. Biden has stated that his United States is ready to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an invasion that goes beyond the provision of weapons, though Biden has said that the White House has walked back his comments.

Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state under Donald Trump, on a trip in Taipei in March urged his country’s United States to recognize the “unmistakable real” in Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Mark Esper, a defense secretary under Trump was a defense secretary under Trump. He said following his visit to Taiwan that the One-China policy “has taken through its paces,” noting the majority of Taiwanese don’t identify anymore as Chinese.

However, former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who spoke after Esper during the Aspen Security Forum, said the One-China policy “actually been quite beneficial to us” by easing tensions.

“Let’s not transform this into Soviet Union 2.0. We must remember that this was an China who was on an integrative course and has an enormous stake in the outcome of the world economic system,” Rice said.

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