China: Pelosi Trip to Taiwan a Provocation
When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi added to the itinerary of a valedictory trip through Asia the island of Taiwan, she could not have been oblivious to the reaction she would produce in a stunned Beijing.
Thus, when the Financial Times revealed that the speaker would be visiting Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province, an enraged Beijing took the Pelosi visit to be a deliberate U.S. provocation.
Beijing's reaction appears authentic and understandable.
"If the U.S. insists on going its own way, China will take firm and forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," a Chinese spokesman told reporters in Beijing. "The U.S. must bear all the consequence of the visit."
Privately, Beijing is said to be issuing more pointed and serious warnings, which involve military action.
Pelosi apparently did not coordinate or clear the visit to Taiwan with the White House or Defense Department. Wednesday, President Joe Biden told reporters: "The military thinks it's not a good idea right now" for Pelosi to travel to Taiwan.
So where do we stand?
China is promising serious retaliation if the highest U.S. official since Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997 flies to Taiwan.
The Biden administration is putting out word that it does not believe that a Pelosi visit to Taiwan is a wise move, when the Chinese Communist Party is on the eve of a conference to decide on a third five-year term for President Xi Jinping.
If Pelosi postpones or cancels the visit, it will be seen as a U.S. climb-down in the face of Chinese indignation and protest, and an affront to our friends in Taiwan.