China comments about any Nancy Pelosi Taiwan trip 'unnecessary', US says

US House Speaker's possible visit would not be a topic of conversation during Joe Biden's call with Xi Jinping, White House says

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. AFP
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The White House on Tuesday said China's recent warning of a strong response over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's possible trip to Taiwan would only increase tension.

Senior Col Tan Kefei, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said “the Chinese military will never sit idly by, and will certainly take strong and resolute measures to thwart any interference by external forces” if the White House did not take action to prevent any trip by Ms Pelosi to the island.

“Frankly, that kind of rhetoric is unnecessary and uncalled for,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

“Rhetoric of that kind only escalates tensions in a completely unnecessary manner."

Ms Pelosi, who is in the US line of presidential succession if something were to happen to the president and the vice president, has refused to discuss her travel plans because of security concerns.

US President Joe Biden last week suggested a visit is “not a good idea right now”, without providing details, but the White House has said it is the Speaker's decision to make.

Under the “one China” policy, the US recognises Beijing as the government of China and does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

But it maintains unofficial contacts and supplies military equipment for the island’s defence.

Beijing has threatened repercussions after reports that Ms Pelosi was planning a visit to Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, as part of her tour of Asia next month.

The trip would come days after an expected phone call between Mr Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Security concerns over Taiwan, the South and East China Seas and Russia's invasion of Ukraine are expected to be topics of discussion between the two leaders, Mr Kirby said.

“There are … issues of tension in this relationship,” he said, but noted there are areas where co-operation was possible between the two countries, such as climate change.

Mr Kirby said Ms Pelosi's trip would not be a topic of discussion as there is “no trip to speak to at this time”.

The two leaders also are not expected to discuss tariffs, as Mr Biden is not expected to make a decision on whether or not to lift tariffs on Chinese goods before the call.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 9:59 PM