TAIPEI, Taiwan — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other lawmakers Wednesday, defying threats from Beijing to retaliate over the visit and raising fears of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait.
White House officials warned that China is preparing itself for possible aggressive actions in response to Pelosi’s visit beyond this week. The Chinese Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced large-scale military exercises in areas around Taiwan soon after the speaker landed in Taipei.
“There’s no reason … for Beijing to turn this visit, which is consistent with long-standing U.S. policy, into some sort of crisis,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. “We are prepared to manage what Beijing chooses to do. At the same time, we will not engage in saber-rattling.”
China’s claims over Taiwan form a core part of the ideology of the ruling Communist Party. Beijing sees official visits by high-ranking foreigners as lending support to pro-independence camps and giving credence to the idea of Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Tuesday at a meeting in Shanghai that U.S. politicians “playing with fire” on the issue of Taiwan would “come to no good end,” according to a transcript released by the Foreign Ministry.