The White House on Monday warned China not to use a potential Taiwan visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to act militarily in the region — even after President Joe Biden publicly raised concerns about the idea.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby took the podium at the White House daily briefing to send a strong message to China about Pelosi’s potential trip.
“We will not take the bait or engage in saber-rattling. At the same time, we will not be intimidated,” Kirby said at the top of the briefing.
Kirby simultaneously tried to reassure the Chinese Communist Party that the United States policy has not changed in the region.
“We’ve repeatedly said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We have said we do not support Taiwan independence,” he said, reassuring Chinese officials they still stood by the “One China Policy.”
The United States recognizes China’s One China Policy regarding Taiwan but maintains “strategic ambiguity” about acting to defend the island if Chinese military forces invade.
Kirby’s remarks indicated that the White House finally backed Pelosi, despite days of administration officials trying to ward off the potential trip after China signaled it was deeply upset by the idea.
In July, Biden was publicly critical of the proposed trip.
“Well, I — 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,” Biden said when asked about it.
Kirby acknowledged that China appeared to be “positioning” itself to act militarily if Pelosi visited the island.
“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or conflict,” he said.
Kirby repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the trip but said they would protect the speaker if she chose to make the trip.
“There’s certainly no reason for this to come to blows. There’s certainly no reason for this to escalate,” Kirby said. “We’re going to watch this very, very closely.”