House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is reportedly planning to visit Taiwan later this year.
McCarthy has international travel plans for which the Pentagon is making preparations, with Taiwan as one of the expected stops, according to Punchbowl News, which spoke with officials directly involved in the talks. The trip would mark the second consecutive year a speaker of the House has visited the island nation.
Last year, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan after receiving warnings from China and the White House, even though the Biden administration ultimately supported the trip.
At the time of the trip, China had ramped up military drills near the island to try and intimidate any visitors. However, despite the intimidation tactics from China, Pelosi still successfully made the trip and became the most senior official to visit the country since 1997 when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) visited.
Punchbowl reported that the Biden administration expects McCarthy to visit Taiwan in the spring. The trip will likely be a major undertaking for the Pentagon — given the major security risks associated with the trip and China potentially attempting the same intimidation tactics it employed in the runup to Pelosi’s visit.
As noted by Punchbowl:
McCarthy expressed support for Pelosi’s trip at the time and said he’d also travel to Taiwan if elected speaker. And just recently, McCarthy touted the House’s vote to establish a select committee on China, which received significant Democratic support.
If McCarthy follows through, it would set up yet another diplomatic showdown between the United States and China. Hawks on both sides of the aisle have been pushing the Biden administration to take a harder line on Taiwan, which U.S. officials believe is under growing threat of an invasion by Beijing.
Furthermore, this time around, the Biden administration is reportedly being more proactive in helping McCarthy plan his trip than it was with Pelosi. Notably, since Pelosi’s trip, Congress has approved more security assistance to the island nation.