House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is planning a trip to Taiwan this year.
The Pentagon has begun preparations for the visit, which is planned for the spring, Punchbowl News reported.
McCarthy to visit Taiwan
McCarthy’s trip comes after his predecessor and rival Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) became the first House Speaker in decades to visit Taiwan in August.
At the time, Pelosi received rare praise from China hawks in the GOP, but critics accused her of bringing tensions between the U.S. and China to a dangerous boil.
The U.S. has long informally supported Taiwan, while officially acknowledging China’s territorial claims over the island nation.
President Biden put Pelosi’s trip at a distance and insisted it did not reflect a change in U.S. policy, but China responded with military drills off Taiwan.
Republicans target China
Although McCarthy is pledging to govern differently than Pelosi, his plans to visit Taiwan signal a degree of continuity in foreign policy under the new Republican House majority.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have ramped up in recent years over issues like trade, human rights, and China’s aggression towards Taiwan, leading to a growing consensus between Republicans and Democrats on opposing China.
The House voted in a bi-partisan move to form a committee on opposing China last week.
“I’ve heard my colleagues on both sides say that the threat posed by Communist China is serious. I fully agree,” McCarthy said. “This is an issue that transcends political parties. And creating the select committee on China is our best avenue for addressing it.”
While Biden was reluctant to back Pelosi’s visit, the administration “is being more proactive when it comes to planning a potential McCarthy visit,” Punchbowl News reported.
Washington is showing more unity against China than it has in recent years, but Biden has continued to sow confusion about America’s actual stance on Taiwan with offhand remarks promising to get involved if China invades the island.
At the same time, Biden has told China’s Xi Jinping that the U.S. continues to support the “One China” policy that Washington has long respected.
“The One China policy, our One China policy, has not changed, has not changed,” Biden said after a meeting with Xi in November. “We oppose unilateral change in the status quo by either side and we’re committed to maintaining the peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits.”