TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday (July 21) refused to confirm or deny a reported trip to Taiwan, but indicated the U.S. military was concerned that her plane "would get shot down" by Chinese forces as it neared Taiwan airspace.
The Financial Times on Tuesday (July 19) cited six sources saying Pelosi will head a delegation that will visit Taiwan in August. When asked on Wednesday (July 20) by the media at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to comment on Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, Biden said, "Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now," reported AP.
At Pelosi's weekly press conference on Thursday, a reporter asked her to respond to Biden's comment that the military does not believe it is a good idea to visit Taiwan at this time and whether that concern would deter her from visiting the country. Pelosi responded by emphasizing that she never discusses her travel plans in advance as it is a "security issue" and quipped, "You never even hear me say if I'm going to London."
When asked what the U.S. can do to deter China from attacking Taiwan, Pelosi laughed and said that it is a "very major issue" and stressed that it is important to show support for Taiwan. She added, "None of us have ever said that we are for independence when it comes to Taiwan. That's up to Taiwan to decide."
Addressing military concerns over her potential trip to Taiwan, Pelosi said, "I think what the president was saying is maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down, or something like that, by the Chinese." She then qualified her answer by saying, "I don't know exactly. I didn't see it. I didn't hear it."
Pelosi further backed away from her comment about the potential threat to her flight by saying, "You're telling me, and I've heard it anecdotally, but I haven't heard it from the president."
If Pelosi's trip takes place as reported, this would mark the first time a House speaker has visited Taiwan since Newt Gingrich's 1997 meeting with former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in Taipei. Pelosi reportedly had originally planned to visit Taiwan in April, but the trip was canceled at the last minute after she was diagnosed with COVID.