House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Sunday she is leading a Congressional delegation to several Asian countries, but didn’t say if she planned to stop in Taiwan.
Pelosi’s office said the speaker would visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan with several members of her caucus, including Reps. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.) and Andy Kim (N.J.).
“Today, our Congressional delegation travels to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region,” Pelosi said. “Our delegation will hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance.”
The trip has sparked tension in the White House amid increased diplomatic tension with China. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy that China claims as its own territory, and the U.S. has been concerned Xi Jinping could attempt to move against the island in the coming years.
If Pelosi does visit Taiwan, she would be the highest-ranking official to go there since 1997. It’s unclear how China would react to the visit, although senior Chinese officials have issued warnings the country could take “firm and resolute measures” if it went ahead.
Despite those concerns, Pelosi said recently it was “important for us to show support for Taiwan.” But Biden recently said the military didn’t think it was a “good idea right now” for her to visit. The president has said any visit was no reason for the U.S. and China to “come to blows,” and that a trip by Pelosi wouldn’t signal any change in the White House’s policy towards Beijing.
Biden does not have any authority over the speaker’s travel schedule.
Pelosi has also said she hasn’t been advocating for any change in stance towards Taiwan.
“None of us has ever said we’re for independence, when it comes to Taiwan,” she said, per the AP. “That’s up to Taiwan to decide.”
Still, The Associated Press reported last week the Pentagon had made plans to increase its movement of forces and assets in the region should Pelosi end up visiting Taiwan.