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White House: ‘What’s the drama?’ regarding Pelosi's visit to Taiwan amid Chinese threats

After a reporter noted that President Biden had publicly stated last month that the Pentagon wanted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to postpone her trip, John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, disputed on Monday that there had been any 'drama' surrounding the trip.

Despite many Chinese threats, including one to potentially shoot down Pelosi's plane, Pelosi (D-Calif.) is anticipated to visit the island nation on Tuesday aboard a US military airplane.

Fears grow as China fumes over possible Pelosi visit to Taiwan

RealClearPolitics reporter Philip Wegmann asked Kirby during a White House briefing why Biden chose to “bother with this drama” and not tell Beijing to “pound sand when they started belly-aching about the possibility of this trip.”

“What’s the drama?” Kirby asked in response.

“Have you watched the briefings the past couple of weeks? I mean, there’s been this question about whether or not the president wants to see her go,” Wegmann replied.

John Kirby
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, denied that there is any “drama” surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi is planning on visiting Taiwan on Tuesday, the highest-ranking US official to do so since 1997.

“I haven’t seen any drama. I think you’re manufacturing it with your question,” Kirby fired back.

“Look, we have been nothing but clear with the Chinese about where we stand on the issues and the ‘One China’ policy and our support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Look, I want to go back to what I said at the beginning because I hope you took note: nothing has changed,” Kirby added.

“There’s no drama to talk to. It is not without precedent for a Speaker of the House to go to Taiwan — if she goes, and I’m not confirming that she is. And it’s certainly not without precedent for members of Congress to travel to Taiwan. It has been done this year, and I’m certain that it will be done in the future.”

China army
President Biden has affirmed in the past that the US would defend Taiwan in the case of an attack from China.
Chinese PLA
On Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, China’s Liberation Army posted a propaganda video prior to Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan.
Chinese PLA

According to Biden, the US military thought Pelosi's rumored trip to Taiwan was "not a good idea presently." Members of Congress, however, came out in support of the speaker, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who claimed that if Pelosi backs down, she will be giving China "a win of sorts."

Since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) visited the island in 1997, Pelosi would be the highest-ranking American elected figure to do so.

Beijing has made it plain that Pelosi's visit to Taiwan would be interpreted as supporting the island's independence. The US "One China" policy Kirby referred to recognizes but does not support Beijing's assertion that Taiwan is a part of its territory.

Pelosi begun her Asian tour Monday as she met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore.
Pelosi began her Asian tour Monday as she met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore.

China's President Xi Jinping warned Biden this week that "those who play with fire will perish by it" when the two leaders spoke on the phone over Taiwan, according to a readout from Beijing's Foreign Ministry.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, said to a reporter during a briefing on Thursday, "I'm not going to speak to that statement, that phrase, that you just read out," when asked whether Xi had threatened Biden last week.

"Everything is consistent," Kirby said on Monday. "I made it again today, and President Biden made it with President Xi. We have no interest in using a hypothetical visit to legitimize or ignite a crisis or conflict, thus there is no need to do so.

At a press appearance in Tokyo in May, Biden confirmed that, "absolutely," the US military would defend Taiwan from an invasion by the military of mainland China.

“That’s the commitment we made,” he said — prompting his subordinates to insist there was no change to the official US stance on the status of Taiwan, whose modern history dates to 1949, when the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek retreated across the Taiwan Strait at the end of the Chinese Civil War.


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