White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby got into a brief argument with a reporter who referred to Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming trip to the island of Taiwan and the Chinese response to the news as “drama.”
Since Pelosi’s announcement, the Chinese government has become increasingly aggressive in their comments toward Pelosi and other U.S. officials. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of it’s territory, and last week Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Biden in a phone call not to “play with fire.”
At Monday’s press briefing, RealClearNews reporter Philip Wegmann asked Kirby why President Biden “bother[ed] with this drama from the beginning” when he suggested to reporters that Pelosi shouldn’t go to Taiwan based on military assessment.
“Why not call the Chinese bluff or tell them to pound sand when they started bellyaching about the possibility of this trip given, as you pointed out, there’s no change in policy and there’s precedent for Pelosi to visit Taiwan?” Wegmann asked.
“What’s the drama?” Kirby responded.
“Have you watched the briefings the last couple of weeks?” Wegmann said. “There’s been this question of whether or not. …”
“Yeah, I’ve been here the last couple of weeks. I haven’t seen any drama. I think … I think you’re manufacturing it with your question,” Kirby shot back.
Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, insisted the Biden administration’s stance on China has been “clear” and has not changed, telling Wegmann “There’s no drama to talk to.”
“We have no interest, as I said in my opening statement, increasing tensions here. We have no interest in changing any of the approach that we take as a government or in keeping with our allies and partners to wanting to see cross-strait tensions be resolved peacefully without a unilateral change,” Kirby continued. “So I don’t know about the drama that you’re claiming exists. It’s quite the contrary here.”
Meanwhile, the “drama” has become so intense that one Chinese state-affiliated media official even said that the Chinese government should shoot down Pelosi’s plane.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” commented Hu Xijin, former editor of the Global Times, in a Friday Twitter post. “The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
Xijin commented again on Monday saying, “Let her go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.”
During Kirby’s remarks, he told reporters that the Biden administration opposes “any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side” regarding China-Taiwan tensions.
“We have said we do not support Taiwan independence, and we have said we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” Kirby said.
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