nansi pelosi

The Pentagon could send additional ships, aircraft and surveillance systems to protect US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she proceeds with her plan to visit Taiwan, AP reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed US officials.

A “contingency plan,” which is being developed by the U.S. military, involves creating “overlapping rings of protection” for the U.S. House speaker during her flight to Taiwan, the Chinese breakaway island, and her stay there, the news agency said.

The officials also spoke of the need to create “buffer zones” around Pelosi and her plane during the visit, ready for any potential incidents relating to China, AP reported.

China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, has repeatedly warned that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan might trigger a serious reaction and have “unbearable consequences” for relations between China and the US.

“If the U.S. insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian told journalists on Wednesday.

The head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, recently noted that the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft and ships in the Pacific region, involving U.S. forces and their allies, has significantly increased over the past five years. He also warned of a rising number of “unsafe” interactions.

The U.S. officials, who spoke to AP, doubted that China would take any direct action against Pelosi herself, but some analysts said a Chinese show of force might go “awry” and result in a dangerous accident, such as an air collision.

Earlier, several media reports suggested that China might go as far as to declare a no-fly zone over Taiwan or send warplanes to “escort” the House speaker’s plane.

The officials told AP that the U.S. would need to have rescue capabilities on the ground during the visit, adding that some helicopters and ships could be sent to the area for that purpose. They also said the prospect of an intercept or show of force by the Chinese military would make it necessary for U.S. aircraft to be present in the area during the trip.

Milley did not comment on what exact measures could be taken to ensure Pelosi’s safety, but said the Pentagon “will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit” if Pelosi does travel to Taiwan.

According to AP, the U.S. already has enough forces spread around the Pacific region, and the Pentagon might eventually use them for additional protection during the trip. The news agency specifically named the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group, which made a port call in Singapore over the weekend, among such forces. The group includes the aircraft carrier itself, two other Navy ships, and Carrier Air Wing Five, consisting of F/A-18 fighters, helicopters and surveillance aircraft. The USS Benfold, a destroyer that passed through the Taiwan Strait last week, was named as well.

Pelosi, who had initially planned to travel to Taiwan in April but postponed her trip after contracting Covid-19, has not yet confirmed any new dates for the visit. If she does go ahead with the plan, she will become the highest-ranking U.S. lawmaker to visit the island in 25 years. Newt Gingrich, who was also House speaker at the time, visited Taiwan in 1997.

Pelosi’s Flight To Taiwan May Provoke Chinese Warplane ‘Escort’

China may use warplanes and missile drills in order to prevent Pelosi from visiting Taiwan, multiple reports have said.

Pelosi, the California Democrat, has neither confirmed nor denied plans to go to the island next month after media reports.

China could declare a no-fly zone or restrict navigation by conducting military exercises near the Taiwan Strait, forcing Pelosi’s aircraft “to make a detour,” the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, citing military experts.

CNN similarly quoted a White House official on Friday as voicing concern that China may announce a no-fly zone in an attempt to derail Pelosi’s possible trip.

The New York Times quoted US officials on Monday as saying that China could send warplanes to “escort” Pelosi’s aircraft and prevent it from landing.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any forms of diplomatic recognition of the Taipei authorities.

Last week Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that it would have a “grave impact” on China-U.S. ties, violating the One-China policy and existing agreements between Washington and Beijing.

On Tuesday, Tan Kefei, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, warned that Beijing will “take strong measures to thwart any external interference” in Taiwan.

Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times reported that the Chinese military could launch missile drills, targeting “any possible U.S. aircraft carriers and other large military vessels that may be involved in Pelosi’s visit.”

During his regular press briefing on Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Pelosi’s possible trip remained “a hypothetical.”

“I am not going to be offering any advice from this podium,” he said, explaining whether the White House was against Pelosi traveling to Taiwan.

Teams of former and sitting U.S. officials traveled to Taiwan in March and April, drawing the ire of China.

Taiwan accused China of ramping up flybys by military jets near the island in recent months, while Beijing criticized Taiwan authorities and the US for striking deals to supply the island with weapons.

U.S. House Speaker Makes Her Own Decisions, White House on Pelosi’s Possible Trip to Taiwan

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said that it is up to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decide whether she will travel to Taiwan.

When asked whether the White House believes Pelosi should visit Taiwan, Kirby said, “The speaker of the House makes her own decisions about travel.”

“We provide facts, context, analysis, geopolitical realities that she will be facing wherever she goes. Our job is to inform her decision-making process and we are doing that. The Speaker makes the decisions,” Kirby said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a Defense Department spokesperson told that it would not be appropriate to comment on any potential congressional travel with respect to Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan.

U.S.-China relations have recently turned sour over Pelosi’s plans to visit Taiwan in the coming weeks. China has repeatedly criticized the United States for maintaining official contacts with Taiwan, saying such actions infringe on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and provoke instability in the region.

Biden’s Comment

An earlier report said:

U.S. President Joe Biden recently said the U.S. military did not consider the visit to be a good idea. Pelosi refused to comment on any travel plans due to security concerns when asked about a possible visit to Taiwan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that in the event of Pelosi’s visit to the island, Beijing will definitely take decisive measures to protect state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the U.S. will be fully responsible for all the serious consequences resulting from the visit.


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