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President Biden issued some surprise comments weighing in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's upcoming Taiwan trip, telling reporters Wednesday that the US military think's it's "not a good idea" for her to visit the island.
When asked specifically about the potential trip which days ago began to widely be reported, earning condemnation and a warning of "forceful measures" from China, Biden said, "The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is.”
While her staff hasn't come out and officially confirmed it, multiple sources have told media outlets that a trip to Taipei is planned for August, after prior plans were canceled last minute in April due to an announced Covid diagnosis.
Some Chinese state pundits are saying this alone could be the spark that ignites war, given she would be the highest American official and the first Speaker of the US House of Representatives - which is third in line to the US Presidency - to visit the country in 25 years after Republican speaker Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.
As a prime example, pundit and former chief editor for state-run Global Times Hu Xijin provided a "suggestion" to the Chinese government and military: "If Pelosi visits Taiwan, PLA military aircraft will accompany Pelosi’s plane to enter the island, making a historic crossing of the island by military aircraft from the mainland for the 1st time. Its significance would overwhelm Pelosi’s visit," he said upon seeing reports of her trip.
China often responds to US officials' visits by staging military drills aimed at Taiwan. For example, when Trump sent then-Health Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan in August 2020, or when Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida traveled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen. In the latter case, China sent a group of PLA warplanes to breach the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait.
As for Biden's latest comments which appeared to cast a potential Pelosi trip in a negative light, this could be coordinated to simply shield the White House from being seen by Beijing as directly behind it. This might allow the administration to claim it being done independent of official administration backing, however, this wouldn't convince Chinese officials.
Perhaps this is the White House's attempt at a "good cop, bad cop" approach, given Biden also said upon returning from Massachusetts Wednesday that he plans to hold a call with President Xi Jinping next month. "I think I'll be talking to President Xi within the next 10 days," Biden told reporters.
A Pelosi visit to Taiwan at this moment would likely mean such a call wouldn't happen, as it would without doubt further rapidly deteriorate US-China relations - also coming at a sensitive time for the American economy - as Reuters reviews, "The long-discussed call between the two leaders, their first in four months, would come at a crucial moment given tensions over the status of Taiwan, and as the Biden administration weighs cutting import duties on goods from China to help reduce inflation pressures on American consumers."
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