Pelosi Aboard Military Aircraft Near Taiwan, White House Confirms Amid Escalating China Threats

By Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Reporter
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
August 1, 2022 Updated: August 1, 2022

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is traveling through Asia aboard a U.S. military aircraft, the White House has confirmed less than a week after Chinese communist media personality suggested she should be shot out of the air.

“It is commonplace for the Speaker to travel aboard a U.S. military transport aircraft,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby during a press briefing on Aug. 1. “That’s very typical.”

“Part of our responsibility is to make sure that she can travel safely and securely and I can assure you that she will.”

Kirby confirmed that “the speaker is flying aboard a military aircraft,” just days after a Chinese state-owned media personality said that Pelosi should be shot down if she flew to Taiwan with a military escort.

Kirby did not specify if Pelosi had an armed escort in the air or not, but said that the White House, Pentagon, and national security team were monitoring the situation following increasingly hostile rhetoric from Beijing.

“We’re going to watch this very, very closely,” Kirby said. “We’re going to make sure that she has a safe and secure visit.”

Chinese communist furor of the trip has increased daily since it was first reported that Pelosi was considering making a stop in Taiwan amid her currently ongoing tour of Southeast Asia. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has since vowed “forceful measures,” and CCP leader Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden that the United States was “playing with fire.”

Kirby said that Beijing’s “irresponsible rhetoric” created tension without cause. The United States’ policy regarding Taiwan and China had not changed he said, and Pelosi’s rumored trip would be in line with previous trips made by U.S. officials to the democratically-governed island.

“The Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan and the Speak of the House has visited Taiwan before, without incident,” Kirby said. “As have many members of Congress, including this year.”

“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a simple visit, consistent with long-standing U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or conflict, or to use it to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.”

Kirby warned that Beijing’s increasingly hostile rhetoric was raising the likelihood of a catastrophic miscalculation. He referenced the regime’s 1995 and 1996 missile strikes in the waters around Taiwan, and said that similar strikes may happen again if Pelosi does, in fact, stop in Taipei this week.

“It’s not so much that there may be a direct attack, but it raises the stakes of miscalculation and confusion which could also lead to unintended consequences,” Kirby said.

Kirby added that China’s “coercion and intimidation tactics” went back years, and said the United States would be on the lookout for increased military provocations including air and naval activities and missile launches, as well as spurious legal claims over international waters.

He said that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would in no way change the status quo between China, Taiwan, and the United States, and that the United States would not stoop to the level of threatening military action. Still, he said, the United States would remain committed to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“We will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling,” Kirby said. “At the same time, we will not be intimidated. We will keep operating in the seas and skies of the western Pacific as we have for decades.”

Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.