Joe Biden has said Pentagon does not support Nancy Pelosi’s reported scheduled visit to Taiwan, a day after China warned of “forceful measures”.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after getting down from Air Force One, Mr Biden said he is planning to speak to Chinese president Xi Jinping as he cast doubts over the fellow Democrat’s trip to Taiwan.
“I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is,” the president said when asked about the House Speaker’s potential visit.
“I think I’ll be talking to President Xi within the next 10 days,” he added while speaking briefly to reporters after returning from Massachusetts, where he addressed climate change issues.
Ms Pelosi would become the first highest-ranking American lawmaker in 25 years to visit Taiwan, a US ally, if it goes ahead as planned.
She was originally scheduled to visit the island nation in April but the trip was postponed after she tested positive for Covid-19.
On Tuesday, the Financial Times cited six people familiar with the details to report that Ms Pelosi would take a delegation to Taiwan to show support in August despite intensifying pressure from China..
Mr Biden’s response comes a day after China lashed out at the potential visit, saying Washington will be fully responsible for all consequences if the trip goes to plan.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the trip will “have a severe negative impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and send a gravely wrong signal to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces”.
“If the US insists on going down the wrong path, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”
China’s ruling Communist Party has long claimed democratically-ruled Taiwan as a part of its own territory and vowed to unify it with mainland China, with “force” if required, despite not having governed it ever.
The trip has not been confirmed by Ms Pelosi’s office or by Taiwanese officals.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it has noted Mr Biden’s comments, and that Taipei and the US have good mutual trust and smooth communication channels.
However, the ministry added that it has not received “exact information” about a visit by Ms Pelosi to Taiwan, and has no further comment.
Taiwan has become one of the most serious flashpoints in US-China relations over the years.
The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but it sells arms to Taipei to defend itself under Taiwan Relations Act. At the same time, the US maintains formal ties with Beijing, acknowledging its One China principle.
In May, Mr Biden said the US will defend Taiwan and warned China against “flirting with danger”, remarks that were swiftly clarified by White House officials, saying that there had been no change in US policy on Taiwan.
His warning came after China flew a record number of jets into Taiwan in what Taipei claimed was a violation of its airspace and an act of intimidation.