Speaking on Thursday, just hours after Beijing announced plans for regular military patrols near the democratically governed island, Pelosi said the US couldn’t let China establish a “new normal” around Taiwan.
Pelosi told her news briefing in Washington that Chinese leaders had been “trying to push their way” toward their goals on Taiwan before she led a congressional delegation there last week.
She was responding to a question about whether China would continue exercises near Taiwan, after conducting its most significant military drills near the island in decades, including likely firing ballistic missiles over Taipei.
“What we saw with China is they were trying to establish sort of a new normal,” Pelosi said. “And we just can’t let that happen.“
The drills held by China in response to Pelosi’s visit shrank a vaguely defined buffer zone that has long helped keep the peace around Taiwan, which Beijing views as part of its territory.
On Wednesday, the People’s Liberation Army command responsible for the Taiwan Strait said it had “successfully completed all tasks” set out in the exercises and would “regularly organise patrols” in the area.
More than 180 Chinese warplanes operated east of the Taiwan Strait’s median line over an eight-day period ending Wednesday. Crossing the divider was once a rare event. The promise of more patrols will likely fuel concerns that Chinese President Xi Jinping will seek to make such incursions the new status quo.
No more than 10 Chinese and Taiwan navy ships continued to stay close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait as of Thursday afternoon, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters, adding the number has “greatly reduced” compared to previous days.
Several Chinese navy ships continued to conduct missions off Taiwan’s eastern coast and near Japan’s Yonaguni island, the source familiar with the security planning in the areas near Taiwan said.
Pelosi’s trip has further strained relations between the US and China, with Beijing suspending a series of working-level talks on issues including military ties and climate change.
She on Thursday again declined to comment on President Joe Biden’s remark prior to her trip that the Pentagon didn’t approve of such a visit, but credited her military escorts with taking “very good care” of the delegation.
“I don’t remember them ever telling us not to go,” she said.
The House speaker shrugged off the threat of Chinese sanctions, which Beijing announced last week without detailing the penalties. “Who cares?” she said.