House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) departed for Asia Sunday amid rising tension between Taiwan and China and while Pelosi boasted of an “unshakeable commitment” her itinerary reeked of capitulation.
Concerns over the potential for open conflict between mainland China and the island nation of Taiwan have only grown since the fruitless deterrence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine emboldened The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. As such, the suggestion of a congressional delegation visiting Taiwan was met with severe threats and the earliest indicators show Chinese President Xi Jinping may be strong-arming President Joe Biden and the Democrats to act as he sees fit.
It had been alleged that, were Pelosi to attempt to make the trip to Taiwan, her plane could be shot down and the press statement released Sunday morning suggested, at least publicly, the speaker is taking that danger seriously.
“I’m leading a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s unshakeable commitment to our allies & friends in the region,” the lawmaker stated.
I'm leading a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s unshakeable commitment to our allies & friends in the region. In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea & Japan, we’ll hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further our shared interests & values.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 31, 2022
“In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea & Japan” — with no mention of Taiwan — “we’ll hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further our shared interests & values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance.”
“Under the strong leadership of President Biden, America is firmly committed to smart, strategic engagement in the region, understanding that a free and flourishing Indo-Pacific is crucial to prosperity in our nation and around the globe,” Pelosi went on to note, before adding more details of her stop in Hawaii.
After a fuel stop in Hawaii, we were honored with a briefing from USINDOPACOM Leadership, as well as a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the USS Arizona. Our Members paid our respects to the valiant Servicemembers who perished in the brutal attack on Pearl Harbor.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 31, 2022
Yet, it was reported Saturday that the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group had been redeployed to the South China Sea ahead of the speaker’s travels as sources within the U.S. government have warned that the PLA may declare a no-fly zone over Taiwan. This news followed a series of drills in northern Taiwan where citizens prepared for possible assaults from China.
Taiwan conducts military drills to prepare for Chinese assault that could dwarf Ukraine: report https://t.co/udirQtHTr7
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) July 26, 2022
Credibility of a threat from China intensified further when it was reported that during a two and a half hour phone call with Biden, Xi had warned, “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this,” according to Fox News.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had also said Monday, “We are seriously prepared…If the U.S. side is bent on going its own way, China will take strong measures to resolutely respond and counteract.”
“The United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” Lijian added.
It remains to be seen whether Pelosi intends to travel to Taiwan anyway, but as far as her official itinerary is concerned, the apparent kowtow to the PLA was not hers alone.
“It is my privilege as Speaker to lead this distinguished group of Members, which includes Chairs of Committees and Subcommittees of jurisdiction and champions of a strong U.S.-Asia Pacific partnership,” she explained of the delegation that included Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks (NY), Mark Takano (CA), Suzan DelBene (WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL), and Andy Kim (NJ).
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) had been asked to join the delegation but it was reported that his schedule would not permit it. His spokeswoman Leslie Shedd explained, “Rep. McCaul was invited but is unable to attend due to a prior commitment. He also believes the Speaker or any other American official should be able to visit Taiwan if they would like to.”
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