U.S. President Joe Biden said that the military believes “it’s not a good idea” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan this summer amid soaring tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Biden was responding to a question from reporters Wednesday about the rumored trip, which drew an angry response from Beijing a day earlier.
“The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is,” he said. Biden made the remarks after returning to Washington from Massachusetts, where he discussed the climate emergency and touted clean energy projects.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the proposed visit, which was first reported by the Financial Times, would “have a severe negative impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and send a gravely wrong signal to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”
“China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said. “The U.S. must assume full responsibility for any ensuing consequences.”
Pelosi was reportedly planning to make the trip in April during a scheduled Asia tour, drawing a similar response then from China, but her travel plans were canceled after she tested positive for COVID-19.
Her visit would be the first to Taiwan by a House speaker since Republican Newt Gingrich met then-President Lee Teng-hui in 1997.
Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province and has vowed to retake it by force if necessary.
The democratic island of 23 million has become perhaps the key point of contention in the relationship between Beijing and Washington, as concern about China’s intentions grows in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is in its fifth month.
Biden also told reporters that he expects to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping within the next ten days.
The White House has been considering easing some of the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports that were imposed by former President Donald Trump.
Some in the administration, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have said that reducing tariffs could help combat long-running inflation, which reached a 40-year high in June.
“I think some [tariff] reductions may be warranted and could help to bring down the prices of things that people buy that are burdensome,” Yellen said during testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee last month
She cautioned that tariff policy is not “a panacea with respect to inflation,” however.
Biden avoided a question Wednesday about what he would say to Xi regarding tariffs.
“I’ll tell him to have a good day,” he said.
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