A leading New York Times columnist slammed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) planned trip to Taiwan as “utterly reckless.”
“I have a lot of respect for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But if she does go ahead with a visit to Taiwan this week, against President Biden’s wishes, she will be doing something that is utterly reckless, dangerous and irresponsible,” Thomas Friedman, the Times’s foreign affairs columnist, wrote in an article published for the paper on Monday.
“Nothing good,” will come of Pelosi’s trip, Friedman argued, warning the “unnecessary visit” could trigger a conflict between the United States and China.
Pelosi has taken heavy criticism from some for the decision to include Taiwan on a tour of Asia this week. The California Democrat is reportedly slated to arrive on the island Tuesday evening.
China has warned a visit by a U.S. leader to the country would have a “severe negative impact” on China-U.S. relations, though this week, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said “we shouldn’t be as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions.”
Friedman, whose work President Biden reads and has expressed admiration for, said the president did not call Pelosi directly and ask her not to go, “apparently worried he would look soft on China, leaving an opening for Republicans to attack him before the midterms.”
“But if we are going to get into a conflict with Beijing, at least let it be on our timing and our issues,” he wrote. “Alas, I fear that the growing consensus in Xi’s China is that the Taiwan question can only be resolved militarily, but China wants to do it on its own schedule. Our goal should be to deter China from such a military endeavor on OUR schedule — which is forever.”
Biden conducted a two-hour call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday of last week, which reportedly included a discussion about Taiwan. The president previously said that the U.S. military did not think it was a good idea for the Speaker to visit Taiwan at this time.
Kirby said Monday that the White House had been in communication with Pelosi and her staff about the trip.