(FreedomBeacon.com)- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that he had given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi security assessments but said that any questions about her trip to Taiwan would have to be sent to her office.
China issued warning about Pelosi’s warnings to the disputed territory. The U.S. maintains its one-China policy, so while the U.S. does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it supplies the country with the means to defend itself from an aggressive China.
During a defense meeting in Brazil, Secretary Austin said that he speaks to Pelosi on a regular basis and provides her his assessment of the security situation. He said that both the Pentagon and other defense officials also briefed her.
“I’ll certainly let Speaker Pelosi’s office make any announcements or comments on her proposed travel and I also won’t comment on what we would do to protect or increase security in support of travel of any VIP,” he added.
China threatened to retaliate over Pelosi’s visit, which was the first time in 25 years that a House Speaker visited. After Pelosi’s arrival in the capital city, Taipei, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that her visit will have a “severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations.”
“China will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the US Speaker’s visit,” the statement said.
President Biden reportedly received a phone call from Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the visit, where Xi told him not to “play with fire” on the Taiwan issue. The Chinese claim Taiwan as its own despite never having governed it, so they seek to prevent it from being seen as legitimate. A high profile trip does just that, giving the China a reason to ramp up hostilities.
There have been many visits to Taiwan from lawmakers, sitting and retired officials, which have angered China. Pelosi’s visit has special significance because of her stature drawing greater ire from the communist country.
“Pelosi is the third public official in the line of succession after the President and Vice President, I think the Chinese take that very seriously,” said Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego.