The United States hopes China will not use any visits by U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan as an excuse for military action, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, adding that all countries should warn Beijing against conflict over the island.
U.S.-China relations were rocked last August by a visit by Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to democratically governed Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.
Since then, a number of U.S. lawmakers have visited Taiwan, and speculation has swirled that Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, who took over as House speaker in January, could soon visit the island, possibly in the spring or summer.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told an event at the Brookings Institution think tank that the United States was committed to support Taiwan and its ability to defend itself under its "One China" policy.
"And we hope that the PRC [People's Republic of China] does not use a visit by a member of Congress to Taiwan as a pretext for military action," Sherman said.
China stepped up military drills around Taiwan as a result of Pelosi's visit. Strained relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated further this month after the U.S. military shot down what it said was a Chinese spy balloon that had flown across U.S. territory.
Sherman, the State Department's second-ranked diplomat, drew on Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a lesson for China against any moves in the Taiwan Strait, saying the war had increased energy and food insecurity for the whole world, as well as inflationary pressures.
"The same would be true of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait," Sherman said. "And so, I urge all countries to tell the PRC: This affects me. This affects my people, my country. This is not a good idea."
Sherman said Washington had "growing concern" about China's "no limits" partnership with Russia and its support for Moscow's Ukraine invasion, even as it was attempting to increase its global standing by saying it would help mediate an end to the conflict. She said China couldn't have it both ways.
"But what I would say to all of those who are supporting Russia [is] you're going to end up with an albatross around your neck," Sherman said, adding that the Ukrainians would deliver a strategic failure for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"That's going to create a lot of problems for those who are supporting this unholy invasion going forward," she said.