U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday he expects to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the next 10 days, while expressing doubts over a possible visit by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan that has drawn ire from Beijing.
The Financial Times reported on Monday that Pelosi plans to visit Taiwan next month to show support for the self-ruled island, which Beijing views as part of its territory. If realized, it would be the first trip to Taiwan by a U.S. House speaker in 25 years.
Asked about the planned visit, Biden told reporters near Washington, "I think that -- the military thinks it's not a good idea right now."
But he added, "I don't know what the status of it is."
In April, Pelosi had planned to travel to Asia with a visit to Taiwan reportedly included. But the trip was postponed after she tested positive for the coronavirus.
Reacting to the report by the British financial daily, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference Tuesday, "We firmly oppose any form of official interaction between the United States and the Taiwan region."
If the 82-year-old House speaker visits Taiwan, it would "harm China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and have "a severe negative impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations," he said.
The Biden administration has been enhancing ties with Taipei as China increases its pressure on the island, which Beijing views as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
The administration at the same time has been seeking to establish what it calls guardrails, or sufficient channels of communication so that intensifying competition between the two countries does not veer into conflict. They remain at loggerheads over Taiwan, human rights issues and unfair economic practices, among other issues.
Officials had been saying from late June that Biden and Xi were expected to have an opportunity for engagement within weeks.
The last time Biden held talks with the Chinese leader was in March through a video call, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine started in late February.
According to The Financial Times, the White House had expressed concern about Pelosi's trip. The newspaper noted that the timing is sensitive for China because it will come in the same month as the Aug. 1 anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army.
Pelosi and her delegation are also eyeing a visit to Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the newspaper.
Zhao has warned that China will "take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity" if Pelosi's trip to Taiwan is not stopped.
In 1997, then House speaker Newt Gingrich traveled to Taiwan.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration sent a delegation led by Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Taiwan in an effort to show Washington's commitment to peace and stability in the region.
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