US warns China not to turn Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan into a ‘crisis’

WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday warned China not to respond to a planned visit to Taiwan by President Nancy Pelosi with military provocations even as U.S. officials sought to reassure Beijing that such a trip would not be not the first of its kind and would not represent any change in policy towards the region.

As tensions rise with Ms. Pelosi’s travels through Asia, John F. Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the administration fears China is firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait , does not send warplanes into the Taiwan air defense area or scene. large-scale naval or air activities that cross the median line in the middle of the strait.

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit in line with long-standing US policy into some kind of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Kirby said during a briefing at the White House. . “In the meantime,” he added, “our actions are not threatening and they are not breaking new ground. Nothing about this potential visit – potential visit – which, by the way, has a precedent, would change the status quo.

Mr. Kirby did not say whether U.S. intelligence agencies had detected any concrete clues to Chinese actions, but he was exceptionally specific in outlining possible responses the U.S. was anticipating. White House officials have privately expressed concern that a visit by Ms. Pelosi would trigger a dangerous cycle of escalation in Asia even as Washington is already absorbed in aid to Ukraine to combat the coronavirus crisis. Russian invasion.

In fact, he addressed the Taiwan friction moments after the White House announced it was sending an additional $550 million worth of weapons to Ukraine, bringing the total to more than $8 billion since the start of the invasion in February and highlighting how much American military industrial capacity has been invested in the war in Europe.

Ms Pelosi, a long-time Chinese hawk, did not confirm plans to travel to Taiwan even as she stopped in Singapore on Monday, but all indications are that she will stop over on the self-governing island without prior announcement. She had originally planned to travel to Taiwan in April, but canceled that trip after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mr Kirby said US officials had not necessarily anticipated an attack from China in response, but warned that any military shows of force could mistakenly trigger a conflict. “This increases the risk of miscalculation, which could lead to unintended consequences,” Kirby said.

He seemed particularly keen to send the message to Beijing that any visit by Ms. Pelosi should not be seen as another provocation by the United States since she would not be the first speaker to go there; President Newt Gingrich stopped by Taiwan in 1997. Mr. Kirby has also repeatedly stressed that the United States still adheres to its one-China policy of not recognizing Taiwan’s independence.

“We’ve made it very clear if she’s going — if she’s going — it’s not unprecedented,” he said. “It’s not new. It doesn’t change anything. »


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