The U.S. military is preparing to bolster its forces in the Indo-Pacific region if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi travels to Taiwan, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Pelosi previously said the U.S. military may be concerned about her plane getting “shot down” by the Chinese military if she decides to take the trip after Chinese officials lobbed threats that her visit would result in a “strong” response against the U.S.
While it is still unclear if Pelosi will travel to Taiwan, officials said the U.S. military will likely use fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets, and other military systems to protect the speaker during her flight and throughout her trip to the island.
U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday that “if there’s a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit.”
“And I’ll just leave it at that,” he added.
While Taiwan governs itself as a sovereign nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and Chinese Communist Party officials have repeatedly warned against U.S. officials traveling to the island.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian threatened the U.S. with “strong and resolute measures” if Pelosi travels to Taiwan.
“If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués and harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
“We urge the U.S. side to adhere to the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués,” Zhao continued. “The US must not arrange for Speaker Pelosi to visit the Taiwan region and must stop official interactions with Taiwan, stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and follow through on the US’s commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence.’”
“Should the U.S. side insist on doing otherwise, China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he concluded. “The US must assume full responsibility for any ensuing consequences.”
Mark Cozad, acting associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp., expressed concerns about a Chinese show of force going “awry” or “some type of accident that comes out of a demonstration of provocative action” during Pelosi’s trip.
“So it could be an air collision. It could be some sort of missile test, and, again, when you’re doing those types of things, you know, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong,” he added.
Last week, President Joe Biden said the U.S. military does not think Speaker Pelosi should travel to Taiwan in the wake of the Chinese Communist Party’s threats.
“‘The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” Biden says on Pelosi visiting Taiwan,” the Daily Caller’s Shelby Talcott tweeted about the president’s remarks, which were made to reporters on the tarmac in Washington, D.C. after a trip to Massachusetts.