“Any member who wants to go should do so. It shows political deterrence for President Xi,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had to decline due to a scheduling conflict. “But she should also pay attention to the military if that’s going to backfire and make things worse.”
Mr Biden, who has repeatedly riled China since taking office saying he would use force to defend Taiwan, said last week the military believed now was not the right time for Mrs. Pelosi leaves. There was talk of a possible danger, even speculation that China would send warplanes to follow his plane. Some on Capitol Hill see it as a clumsy effort by the White House to pressure Ms. Pelosi to cancel such a trip, the first by a speaker in 25 years, but Republicans and some Democrats have urged her to follow rather than let Beijing dictate US actions.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him to Australia on Wednesday that he would provide security for any travel the speaker takes, as the armed forces traditionally do. “If it is decided that President Pelosi or someone else is going to travel and they request military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure the safety of their visit,” he said.
The conflict comes as the United States seeks to compete more vigorously with China economically and politically. The Senate on Wednesday adopted a measure investing in the production of semiconductors to revive American industry and reduce dependence on Chinese products. Representative Adam B. Schiff, a senior Democrat from California, introduced separate legislation on Wednesday allowing the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials or entities aiding Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Those actions fueled resentment in Beijing, analysts said. “The Chinese see Washington as intentionally causing a crisis,” said Susan A. Thornton, a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center and a longtime diplomat who has worked on Asian politics. “I don’t know what Biden could say that would convince them otherwise.”
But China reacted more aggressively than in the past. Ms Pelosi first announced a plan to travel to Taiwan in April only to postpone it after she tested positive for coronavirus, and Beijing paid little heed to it at the time. Moreover, a succession of other high-profile Americans have surrendered recently, including prominent members of Congress and two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, without causing a crisis.