WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, invited a small group of lawmakers on her official trip to Taiwan, including top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R- Texas, NBC News told Wednesday.
McCaul, the senior member of the foreign affairs panel, said he and Chairman Gregory Meeks, D.N.Y., had been invited by the speaker on an upcoming trip to the self-governing island China considers under its control. .
McCaul’s comments are the first official remarks confirming Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. His spokesperson declined to confirm any international travel for the speaker, citing “longstanding security protocols,” nor did the White House confirm the trip.
The Texas Republican said he declined the invitation due to a personal obligation that conflicted with the visit. The trip is expected to take place during the Congressional recess in August, although McCaul did not provide exact dates.
“Any member who wants to go should do so. It shows political deterrence towards President Xi,” McCaul, a China hawk, said in a brief interview on Capitol Hill. “But she should also pay attention to the military if that’s going to backfire and make things worse. “
Rep. Anna Eshoo, a close ally of Pelosi and a fellow Bay Area Democrat, told NBC News on Wednesday that Pelosi had also invited her to the trip to Taiwan, but could not attend.
A spokesperson for Meeks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reports of Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan grabbed international headlines and stern warnings from Beijing that it would lead a “forceful” response if it set foot on the democratic island.
The trip also created a rare intra-party rift between Pelosi and President Joe Biden, who told reporters over the weekend that U.S. military officials had told him such a trip “is not a good idea for the moment”. Biden is expected to hold a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week on issues ranging from tensions in Taiwan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lawmakers from both parties have rallied behind Pelosihowever, urging him to make the trip and highlight American support for Democratic Island.
“If she wants to go, I definitely think she should go,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, said Tuesday. “And I think she should be more motivated to go now that she’s been discouraged, and her colleagues should join her.”
But some Democrats have joined the Biden administration in its concern over the trip. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed some reservations.
“I think we should be determined. If we want to change our policy in Taiwan, let’s make a collective decision to do so. Let’s not do it by accident through a series of uncoordinated steps,” he said on Tuesday.
In Wednesday’s interview on Capitol Hill, McCaul said he also spoke to Pentagon and State Department officials who raised concerns about Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
US policy toward Taiwan is one of “strategic ambiguity.” Washington does not recognize or defend Taiwan’s independence from China, but it sells US weapons and military equipment to Taiwan and supports the island’s ability to send its own delegations to world bodies.
Given the recent Chinese aggression against Taiwan, McCaul said he believed it was time for the United States to formulate a more robust policy.
“I think we’ve come to the point where China is such a threat to Taiwan that we need to review this policy,” he said. “I think it shouldn’t be ambiguous anymore. I think China should understand that our policy is up for defense and not be ambiguous about it. »