Kirby on reported Pelosi trip to Taiwan: We shouldn’t be intimidated by China’s rhetoric
White House national security spokesman John Kirby on Monday said a potential visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taiwan is “not uncommon” and there was no reason for recent threats by the Chinese government.
“We shouldn’t be as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions,” Kirby told Brianna Keilar on CNN’s “New Day.”
“This is an important trip for the Speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her,” he added.
The U.S. has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island that China considers to be part of its territory, which under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 includes a U.S. commitment to support Taiwan without a promise of direct engagement if China invades.
Beijing has warned that it firmly opposes a visit to Taiwan by Pelosi and it would have a “severe negative impact” on China-U.S. relations, vowing that China would take “strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric,” Kirby said on CNN. “There is no reason for any actions to be taken, it is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan. It is very much in keeping with our policy and consistent with our support to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act.”
President Biden conducted a more than two-hour call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, which included a discussion about Taiwan.
Biden said last month that the U.S. military “thinks it’s not a good idea right now” for Pelosi to conduct a visit.
Kirby on Monday said the White House had communicated with Pelosi and her staff about the trip.
“I’m not going to talk about security requirements, but clearly we want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely, and we’re going to make sure of that,” Kirby said.
Pelosi’s planned trip includes scheduled stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. She is joined by five other House Democrats.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.