China issued a strong warning Thursday against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan, which it considers to be a breakaway and inseparable part of the communist mainland.
Following the warning, which included threats of “strong measures” and assertions that “consequences” will be the fault of the U.S., the visit by the congressional delegation was postponed. Pelosi has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and her press secretary tweeted that the trip will be taken at a later date.
Pelosi is reported to be asymptomatic and fully vaccinated and boosted. The White House said President Joe Biden tested negative Wednesday.
The 82-year-old Democrat’s office did not confirm that Taiwan was on the delegation’s itinerary, but reports in Japanese and Taiwanese media indicated that Pelosi planned to visit there after a planned stop in Japan this weekend.
The last House speaker to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich, who made the trip in 1997.
Pelosi has stridently criticized China’s human rights record, and the island nation still has the “rock-solid” support of the U.S., according to Biden. A delegation of former senior defense and security officials was sent by the president in March to visit Taiwan shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This was viewed as a show of support for the threatened democracy.
Taiwan continues to be another sore spot in relations between the U.S. and China. The communist mainland government says the island country will be “reunified” with China by force if necessary, while Washington continues to provide political and military support.
In fact, Sunday marks the 43rd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act being signed into law. Not only does it guide relations between the countries due to the lack of formal diplomatic structures, it codifies the U.S. obligation to assist Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
Many observers believe Beijing is closely watching the administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a measure of what to expect if or when “reunification” is attempted. It will be a bold sign if, and it’s a big “if,” Pelosi and a congressional delegation do in fact land in Taiwan in the near future.