Chinese leader asked Biden to prevent Pelosi from visiting Taiwan


Just days before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to visit Taiwan, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a request of President Biden: Find a way to keep Pelosi from visiting.

Xi’s request in a July 28 call with Biden, described by a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation, followed myriad warnings Chinese officials made to U.S. counterparts of what China might do in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island that Beijing considers part of its territory.

But Biden told Xi he could not oblige, explaining that Congress was an independent branch of government and that Pelosi (D-Calif.), as with other members of Congress, would make her own decisions about foreign trips, the official said. Biden also warned Xi against taking provocative and coercive actions if the House speaker were to travel to Taiwan, the official said.

Even as they defended Pelosi’s right to visit, however, top U.S. officials harbored deep concerns about the trip, according to several senior administration and White House officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly. The United States had seen indications over the last several months that China was considering unprecedented military activity across the Taiwan Strait, and officials had seen signs that China would use Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to act, the senior officials said.

U.S. officials also worried about the timing of Pelosi’s visit, which would come shortly before Xi sought to secure his third term in power, and the geopolitical ramifications that could follow.

Despite the Defense Department, the United States Indo-Pacific Command and White House national security officials laying out the risks, Pelosi proceeded with the trip, which prompted an unprecedented military response from China that included firing missiles into the waters around Taiwan and over the island — some missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone — and military drills that crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plans to visit Taiwan may disrupt the careful relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States. (Video: Julie Yoon, John Farrell/The Washington Post)

Pelosi’s Taiwan trip a culmination of decades of challenging China

Pelosi’s visit, which some analysts criticized as a legacy-burnishing move for her, frustrated administration officials and deepened tensions between the administration and the powerful House speaker responsible for securing the president’s legislative agenda.

Yet Pelosi was unmoved by White House officials’ arguments. Administration officials told her China was likely to escalate its action in the region regardless of whether she visited but could move up the timeline for doing so, two people briefed on the…

Read More:Chinese leader asked Biden to prevent Pelosi from visiting Taiwan

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