Pentagon Prepping in Case Pelosi Does Go to Taiwan

Trip isn't confirmed, but US military is developing plans for any contingency
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 27, 2022 7:17 AM CDT
Pentagon Prepping in Case Pelosi Does Go to Taiwan
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at the Capitol in Washington, July 21, 2022.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – US officials say they have little fear that China would attack Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she flies to Taiwan. But the US House speaker would be entering one of the world’s hottest spots, where a mishap, misstep, or misunderstanding could endanger her safety. So the Pentagon is developing plans for any contingency. Officials told the AP that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan—still an uncertainty—the military would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region.

They declined to provide details, but said that fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets, and other military systems would likely be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time on the ground there. Pelosi would be the highest-ranking US elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997. The BBC notes Pelosi has long been a critic of China and had planned a Taiwan trip for April; it was canceled after she was diagnosed with COVID. A Pelosi trip may well loom over a call planned for Thursday between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, their first conversation in four months.

And while the White House on Monday declined to weigh in directly on the matter, noting she had not confirmed the trip, the AP separately reports that a growing number of Republicans are publicly backing the idea of her traveling there and are urging Biden to do the same. Among them: Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, at least two former Trump administration officials and the last speaker of the House to make the trip to Taiwan, also a Republican. Mike Chinoy takes the opposite view. In a piece for Foreign Policy, Chinoy shares an anecdote about being arrested thanks to Pelosi while covering her 1991 visit to Tiananmen Square when he was CNN's bureau chief.

The experience (read about it here) gave him a taste of what he sees as "Pelosi’s penchant for high-profile gestures designed to poke China’s communist rulers in the eye—regardless of the consequences." He's not on board with the idea of a Taiwan visit at this "dangerous moment" and sees bad timing afoot: on her side, timing "linked more to the August congressional recess than any strategic planning," but also during a "politically sensitive" moment for Xi, who is set to be reelected for an unprecedented third term. (Biden wasn't effusive about the idea last week.)

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