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Pelosi duels with Beijing over possible visit to Taiwan

(CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not easily intimidated. And she has a long history of standing up to China. Therefore, her current standoff with Beijing over a proposed visit to Taiwan is long overdue.

The proposed trip is causing a stir in China, and it is also worrying the Pentagon and the White House. US President Joe Biden said gently that the military believes a visit to Taipei by the 82-year-old politician “wasn’t a good idea at this time.” Pelosi’s response seemed tongue-in-cheek: “I think what the president said is that maybe the military was afraid my plane was going to be shot down or something. I don’t know exactly.”

Shooting down a US military jet carrying the Speaker of the House of Representatives would be an unthinkable escalation. But there are real-world responses that China could consider after promising “decisive and forceful” measures; including the imposition of a no-fly zone around the autonomous island.

ANALYSIS |  'No more weakness': Pelosi duels with Beijing over potential visit to Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi

Now that news of the possible trip has spread, if Pelosi does not go, it will look like the United States is caving in to China. And hawks warn that Beijing should have no say in who visits.

“Pelosi should go to Taiwan and President Biden should make it very clear to President Xi that there is nothing the Chinese Communist Party can do about it,” said Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican who rarely sides with politics. democrat. “No more weakness and self-deterrence.”

But officials who spend their lives trying to prevent US-China tensions from boiling over might not agree. A visit by Pelosi, a world figure with a long history of criticizing Beijing on human rights, would create extraordinary political pressure on President Xi Jinping to respond. And now might not be the smartest time to spark a superpower confrontation, as the White House is locked in a proxy war with Russia over Ukraine and beset by many other challenges.

Pelosi must weigh all of this as she plans her next move. For decades to come, US officials will likely consider versions of the same two questions: how far is the US willing to push China… and how might Beijing respond?

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