“Any member that wants to go should. It shows political deterrence to President Xi,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had to decline because of a scheduling conflict. “But she should also pay attention to the military if it’s going to cause a blowback and escalate things.”
Mr. Biden, who has riled China multiple times since taking office by saying he would use force to defend Taiwan, said last week that the military thought it was the wrong time for Ms. Pelosi to go. There has been talk of possible danger, even speculation that China would send warplanes to shadow her plane. Some on Capitol Hill see this as a ham-handed effort by the White House to pressure Ms. Pelosi to cancel any such trip, the first by a speaker in 25 years, but Republicans and some Democrats have urged her to follow through rather than let Beijing dictate American actions.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him in Australia on Wednesday that he would provide security for any trip the speaker makes, as the armed forces traditionally do. “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,” he said.
The conflict comes as the United States is seeking to compete more vigorously with China economically and politically. The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure investing in semiconductor production to revive American industry and reduce reliance on Chinese products. Representative Adam B. Schiff, a senior Democrat from California, introduced separate legislation on Wednesday authorizing the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials or entities aiding Russia’s war in Ukraine.
These actions have fueled resentment in Beijing, analysts said. “The Chinese see Washington as intentionally provoking a crisis,” said Susan A. Thornton, a senior fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School and a longtime career diplomat who worked on Asia policy. “I’m not sure what Biden could say that would convince them otherwise.”
But China has responded more aggressively than in the past. Ms. Pelosi first announced a plan to go to Taiwan in April only to postpone after testing positive for the coronavirus, and Beijing took little notice at the time. Moreover, a succession of other high-level Americans have visited lately, including senior members of Congress and two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, without provoking a crisis.