The Taiwanese official added that he is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. It’s unclear when Pelosi will land in Taipei.
During a regular Foreign Ministry briefing on Monday, China warned against the “huge political impact” of Pelosi’s planned visit to China, which it claims as part of its territory, and reiterated that its military “will not sit idly by.” Beijing feels its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” are being threatened.
“China stands firm and we want to tell the US once again that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never be idle. China will take firm responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation to Taipei, told reporters when asked about the fallout.
“As for what steps, if she dares to go, let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
Although China’s military did not mention Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said in a video posted online Monday that it would “bury incoming enemies.” A message posted on Weibo read: “Stand firm and prepare for fighting command; bury all incoming enemies.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated the administration’s policy that it was Pelosi’s decision to visit, adding, “We don’t know what Speaker Pelosi wants to do.”
“Congress is an independent, co-equal branch of government,” Blinken said at the United Nations on Monday afternoon. “The decision is entirely up to the speaker.”
Blinken said such a visit would set a precedent, noting that previous speakers and members of Congress had visited Taiwan.
“So if the speaker decides to visit, if China tries to create some kind of crisis or escalate tensions, it will be entirely on Beijing,” Blinken said. “We are looking for them and if he decides to visit, act responsibly and not engage in any escalation.”
National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said earlier Monday that the Biden administration would support Pelosi on her visit to Taiwan.
“When she goes abroad, we want to make sure that she can go safely and securely, and we’re going to make sure of that. There’s no excuse for Chinese rhetoric. There’s no need to take any action. It’s not unusual for leaders of Congress to go to Taiwan,” Kirby told CNN on “New Day.” in Briana told Gaylor.
“We as a country should not be — we should not be intimidated by those rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important journey for the speaker and we will do everything we can to support him,” Kirby continued.
Asked whether the US was prepared for a confrontation with China through the visit, Kirby said, “There is no change in our policy. There is no change in our focus on trying to keep a free and secure and open Indo-Pacific.”
“The issue of Taiwan is a very important, core issue in China-US relations,” US China Ambassador Qin Gang said at the Aspen Security Forum in July.
Although Biden has said publicly that the U.S. military doesn’t believe it’s a good time for Pelosi to go to Taiwan, he stopped short of directly telling her not to go, two sources said.
Administration officials have worked to brief the House speaker in recent weeks, including presentations from the Pentagon and other administration officials to the democratic, self-governing island of 24 million people. But Biden doesn’t believe it’s a place he’s telling her not to go, and he’s avoided commenting publicly on his trip since his initial statement on July 21.
Biden said last month that the US military opposed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but has since declined to elaborate on the warnings. The White House has said it is up to the speaker where he travels.
However, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had recently discussed a visit to Asia with Pelosi.
When Pelosi travels abroad, the administration pays extra attention to her security because she is in the line of succession to the presidency.
Administration officials have expressed concern that Pelosi’s trip comes at a particularly tense time, with Xi expected to seek an unprecedented third term at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party congress. Chinese party officials are expected to lay the groundwork for that conference in the coming weeks, putting pressure on the leadership in Beijing to show strength.
Officials believe the Chinese leadership does not fully understand the political dynamics of the United States, leading to misunderstandings over the significance of Pelosi’s potential visit. Officials say China may have confused Pelosi’s visit with an official administration visit because she and Biden are Democrats. Administration officials worry that China doesn’t separate Pelosi much from Biden.
Pelosi has long been a critic of the Chinese Communist Party. He met with pro-democracy dissidents and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who is a thorn in the side of the Chinese government. In 1991, Pelosi unfurled a black-and-white banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square commemorating the victims of the 1989 massacre that read “To those who died for democracy.” In recent years, he has voiced his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
“I would say there’s been a full-court message from the Chinese embassy to discourage travel to Taiwan,” Representative Rick Larson, a Washington Democrat who co-chairs the congressional US-China task force, told CNN. “I don’t think it’s their business to tell us what to do. That’s my message.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the United States, responded that his office was in “regular contact” with members of Congress, including Larson.
“On the Taiwan question, we have expressed our position loud and clear,” Pengyu said. “The Embassy is making every effort to prevent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan from damaging peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the stability of Sino-US relations.”
“We hope that serious consequences can be avoided,” he added. “This is in the common interests of both China and the United States.”
Many Democrats and Republicans in Congress said it was Pelosi’s right to travel to Taiwan.
“Whether Taiwan goes or not is Speaker Pelosi’s decision, not any other country’s,” said Illinois Republican Rep. Darin LaHood, Larsen’s Republican representative on the US-China task force. “In our democratic system – we operate with separate but equal branches of government.”
“It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to affect the ability or right of the Speaker, members of Congress or other US government officials to travel to Taiwan or anywhere else around the world,” he added.
Other members seemed more wary of the diplomatically sensitive trip.
California Democrat Rep. Judy Xu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, said she would “always support Taiwan.”
But when asked if the visit to Taiwan now would send the wrong message, Xu said, “You can look at it in two ways. One is that relations are very strained now. But on the other hand, you can tell when Taiwan should show strength and support.”
Asked what she thought, she said, “I’ll leave that to whoever is going to decide.”
This story was updated Monday with additional details.
CNN’s Jennifer Hunsler, Nectar Gun, Yong Xiang, Hannah Ritchie, Sandalis Duster and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.