The Biden administration has grown increasingly anxious this summer about China’s statements and actions regarding Taiwan, with some officials fearing that Chinese leaders might try to move against the self-governing island over the next year and a half — perhaps by trying to cut off access to all or part of the Taiwan Strait, through which U.S. naval ships regularly pass.
The internal worries have sharpened in recent days, as the administration quietly works to try to dissuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from going through with a proposed visit to Taiwan next month, U.S. officials say. Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, would be the first speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, and the Chinese government has repeatedly denounced her reported plans and threatened retaliation.
U.S. officials see a greater risk of conflict and miscalculation over Ms. Pelosi’s trip as President Xi Jinping of China and other Communist Party leaders prepare in the coming weeks for an important political meeting in which Mr. Xi is expected to extend his rule.
Chinese officials have strongly asserted this summer that no part of the Taiwan Strait can be considered international waters, contrary to the views of the United States and other nations. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in June that “China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait.”
American officials do not know whether China plans to enforce that claim. But Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who is close to President Biden and deals with the administration often on issues involving Taiwan, said “there is a lot of attention being paid” to what lessons China, its military and Mr. Xi might be learning from events in Ukraine.
“And one school of thought is that the lesson is ‘go early and go strong’ before there is time to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses,” Mr. Coons said in an interview on Sunday. “And we may be heading to an earlier confrontation — more a squeeze than an invasion — than we thought.” [Continue reading…]