House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) congressional delegation through the Indo-Pacific was championed from both sides of the aisle as a courageous showing from the United States that the nation does not kowtow to threats of intimidation. But now that tensions have only escalated, the White House appeared more interested in party unity ahead of an election than acknowledging the serious danger of another war while Chinese propagandists smeared the U.S.
Following the speaker’s trip abroad, China has taken the opportunity to further malign the United States on the world stage while treating the delegation as a provocation on the part of the U.S. government. In addition to closing off discussions with America on military issues, climate change policy and the severe concerns regarding Fentanyl originating in China, the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying likened his nation to George Floyd and the U.S. in this scenario to a violent cop.
On Twitter, the assistant minister wrote, “We cannot allow the US to take itself as ‘world policeman’ and treat other countries as George Floyd whom it can bully and strangle at will.”
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) August 5, 2022
The Chinese official had previously invoked the death of Floyd while in police custody in 2020 when the nation was getting called out over their treatment of protestors in Hong Kong.
At the time, the assistant minister wrote, “I can’t breathe,” while sharing a post from then-State Dept. spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
"I can't breathe." pic.twitter.com/UXHgXMT0lk
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 30, 2020
During and since Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has conducted military exercises wherein they surrounded Taiwan and launched missiles, some of which entered Japanese territorial waters.
Coupled with the cancelation of talks as a result of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was questioned whether the administration faulted the speaker for escalation: “Given China’s actions on climate and the military dialogue with the U.S., does the White House think Speaker Pelosi bears any blame for the rupture? And do you worry that the relationship with China could devolve further?”
“So I’ll–we’ll–and you’ve heard us say this before: The speaker had every right–every right,” Jean-Pierre insisted with a non-answer to the specific question. “It is her right to have gone to Taiwan.”
“Members of…Congress make those decisions. We do not tell them what they can or cannot do or where they can travel,” she continued seemingly backing up Pelosi’s travel decisions while distancing President Joe Biden from the fallout. “We have said this many times before: We provide a full, thorough briefing when they do travel.”
“And–and so, again, there was no reason to have this escalation that we’re seeing from China. You know, it is–it is fundamentally irresponsible what they are doing. And we’ll continue our efforts to keep open lines of communication with Beijing while defending our interests and values in the region,” she added.
Jean-Pierre tried to get the reporters to drop the subject, stating, “And so we’re…we are not going to, you know, give a–give any–any more than that on the speaker’s travel,” but the matter was too serious for even corporate media to accept the White House’s talking point.
“But now, like my colleague just said–now that you’ve seen the results, now you’ve seen what has happened,” another reporter asked, “do you feel that these escalated tensions in the region were worth any message that Pelosi’s visit sent?”
“I mean, I’m going to say what I just said. The speaker had the right to go to Taiwan. She’s the Speaker of the House. She should speak to the impact of her travel on her own. That is for her to answer. And our focus is on defending our interests, as we have said many times and the values in the Indo-Pacific. And that’s what we’re going to focus on,” Jean-Pierre reiterated.
However, the press secretary’s responses belied the reality that Pelosi’s trip had a ripple effect throughout the region. During her trip to South Korea, she did not receive the warm welcome from South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol that she had from other foreign dignitaries as it was believed he did not wish to draw ire from China after Pelosi had met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.
Pelosi pledges to denuclearize North Korea before visit to demilitarized zone https://t.co/idrj81roeu
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) August 5, 2022
Furthermore, for the White House to suggest that they supported Pelosi’s decision flies directly in the face of their reported démarche of the Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang, in which they diplomatically protested China’s provocation in the region, calling it “irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, according to The Washington Post.
Kirby also stayed true to the party line though, and said of sanctions laid on Pelosi by China, “the United States condemns China’s enactment of sanctions against Pelosi and her family members. I’ll say it again, I’ve said it many times: She had every right to go.”
Continued to be pressed on the matter, Jean-Pierre insisted, “Again, my answer is not going to change. It was her right to travel. There’s precedence for this. Nothing has changed in the sense of our One China policy that’s guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. Nothing has changed in our perspective.”
Pelosi told the press Friday from Japan, “We have said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia, changing the status quo in Taiwan,” and added, “Again, it isn’t about our visit determining what the U.S.-China relationship is. It’s a much bigger and longer-term challenge, and one that we have to recognize that we have to work together in certain areas.”
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