House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan on Tuesday, decisively ending weeks of wrangling between the United States and China about whether she should make the trip.
Pelosi’s controversial stop in Taipei, which would make her the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the self-governing island in decades, indicates that the Pentagon has downgraded its assessment of a potential credible Chinese military threat to the speaker’s safety.
Beijing has strongly protested Pelosi’s Taiwan visit and issued lurid warnings of a stern Chinese response. “A visit to Taiwan by her would constitute a gross interference in China’s internal affairs … and lead to a very serious situation and grave consequences,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday.
Despite the rhetoric, Pelosi’s Taiwan visit — part of a congressional trip to four Asian countries — suggests that both sides have come to a grudging accommodation that will allow it to proceed while mitigating the potential for miscalculations at a time of heightened bilateral tensions. “Part of our responsibilities is to make sure that she can travel freely and securely and I can assure you that she will,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday, without elaborating.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the military-to-military are having conversations … to make sure there’s no accident that could happen,” said Ret. Command Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, Dennis Fritz, director of the Eisenhower Media Network.
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