Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan raises concerns that China could violate airspace, a US official said.

China could also retaliate by sending fighter jets further into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense zone, which could provoke a reaction from Taiwan and the US, the official added. They did not elaborate on what a possible response would entail.

China has sent warplanes into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense zone many times in recent months, which does not violate any international law, but usually results in Taiwan taking precautions, including occasionally taking off its own fighter jets.

The Chinese planes did not enter the island’s territorial airspace, an area extending 12 nautical miles from its coastline.

The State Department urged China to stop bullying Taiwan.

According to three people familiar with the planning process, Pelosi is planning a trip to Taiwan in the coming weeks.

While other members of Congress and former US officials have visited Taiwan this year, Pelosi will become the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Then-Speaker Newt Gingrich traveled there in 1997.

In recent months, tensions have escalated between Washington and Beijing over the Taiwan issue. The Chinese Communist Party has long claimed that a democratically ruled Taiwan is part of its territory, and has repeatedly vowed to “reunite” with the island of 24 million – by force if necessary – despite never ruling it. The US has committed to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself, although recent arms sales to Taiwan have been slow, raising concern among US lawmakers.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington cited a CNN statement by a foreign ministry spokesman in which he strongly objected to Pelosi’s possible visit when asked to comment on airspace concerns.

The Financial Times was be the first to report Pelosi’s plans for the visit.
President Joe Biden cited US military concerns about Pelosi’s possible trip earlier this week.

“I think the military sees it as a bad idea right now, but I don’t know what the status is,” Biden said Wednesday when asked if it was a good idea for Pelosi to go to a self-governing island.

Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military “generally” briefs decision makers on military assessments. “We talk about what the enemy can do, we discuss logistics, military plans and readiness,” Butler said. He declined to say whether Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley had spoken to Pelosi about the proposed trip to Taiwan.

Pelosi said it was important to show support for Taiwan on Thursday, but said she would not discuss any travel plans, citing security concerns. Pelosi said she heard “accidentally” about Biden’s comments about her possible visit, but said she didn’t hear anything directly from the president.

“I think the president meant that perhaps the military was afraid that my plane would be shot down, or something like that. I don’t know for sure,” Pelosi said.

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State Department officials also have some concerns, two sources said. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday sidestepped questions about the trip, calling it “hypothetical” for now.

“I’m not going to give any advice from the podium,” Price said when asked about the State Department’s position on her possible visit.

Price reiterated that the Biden administration remains committed to its one-China policy, noting that the US does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but does have a “reliable off-the-record” relationship with the island.

Disagreeing with Pelosi’s possible visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that it would “seriously violate the One China principle and the provisions of the three joint Sino-US communiqués and harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Sabina Chang, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s official DC office, told CNN that Taiwan “has not received any information about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the Chinese aircraft entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone but did not violate international law.

Barbara Starr of CNN contributed to this report.

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