Van Hollen says China’s Xi manufactured crisis over Pelosi trip to Taiwan

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) speaks during an event with President Biden to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure deal during an event at the Port of Baltimore’s Dundalk-Marine Terminal in Baltimore Md., on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Sunday said Chinese President Xi Jinping decided to “manufacture a crisis” over a visit from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the self-governing island nation of Taiwan, a trip that outraged Beijing and led to the cancelation of agreements with the U.S.

While some have questioned the value of Pelosi’s visit, Van Hollen told NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd that her trip was important, arguing the U.S. needs “to be very clear that China doesn’t get to dictate which U.S. officials go to Taiwan and when they go to Taiwan.”

“We send congressional delegations frequently. A former Speaker of the House has been to Taiwan in the past. And what President Xi decided to do was manufacture a crisis over Pelosi’s visit,” Van Hollen said, adding that the Chinese leader is “seeking an unprecedented third term as leader of China. And this is saber rattling and, you know, chest bumping by President Xi.”

Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official to touch down on Taiwan in 25 years when she led a congressional delegation to the island nation last week.

China, which sees Taiwan as part of China under its One China policy, has increased aggressive rhetoric about the island and has ordered more military drills around the nation in recent years, raising fears of a possible invasion.

But Van Hollen told NBC on Sunday that a Chinese invasion was not “inevitable” and could be prevented.

“We need to help Taiwan make that as difficult as possible for China. And we’ve been doing that by supplying Taiwan with military assistance,” the senator said. “We need to continue to do that to make Taiwan into the porcupine so that when, you know, China looks at Taiwan, it realizes that this is going to be a hell of a fight and not a winnable fight.”

After Pelosi’s visit last week, China authorized unprecedented military drills, surrounding the island with ships and aircraft and firing missiles over the nation, which landed near Japan.

China, which had repeatedly warned and threatened the U.S. and Taiwan ahead of the visit, sanctioned Pelosi and ended mutual agreements with the U.S. aimed at fighting climate change and dangerous drugs.

Van Hollen on Sunday said the U.S. is not in a cold war with the People’s Republic of China, but added “a lot of that depends on what China does next.”

“There’s no doubt that President Xi has escalated, you know, China’s actions against Taiwan even before the Pelosi visit and has been more aggressive throughout the region,” he said. “At the same time, we have been trying to cooperate with them on these other measures, as you say. I believe they’ll be back at the table on those measures.”

Tags China chris van hollen Chris Van Hollen Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Xi Jinping
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