Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, is rejecting criticism of a visit to Taiwan by a congressional delegation led by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.
Incensed by the visit, China launched and has now extended military drills that are effectively blockading the island, according to officials in Taipei.
Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province that it intends to unite with the mainland by force, if necessary. The live-fire air and sea operations, which include firing ballistic missiles into the waters off Taiwan, are a visible demonstration of China’s fury.
In an interview with WTTW news, Krishnamoorthi – who was a member of the congressional delegation – said China’s bellicose response was “irresponsible and reckless.”
“This type of provocative behavior unfortunately happened long before we went to Taiwan and it’s happening now. It’s irresponsible and reckless,” said Krishnamoorthi. “But if the cost of avoiding that type of provocative behavior is ceding control of Taiwan or ceding control of our travel schedule to the Chinese Communist Party, that’s not a price we’re gonna pay.”
Pelosi, the first speaker to visit Taiwan in a quarter of a century, said that the trip was about showing the bipartisan and “overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”
But some critics have suggested that the trip was poorly timed.
Even President Joe Biden publicly acknowledged that the U.S. military thought the trip was “not a good idea right now,” particularly as President Xi Jinping prepares for the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress later this year.
Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is legally obligated to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself but has not promised to directly intervene to defend the island under a policy known as “strategic ambiguity.”
Speaking in Japan on the final leg of the delegation’s Asia trip, Pelosi made it clear that she would not allow Beijing to dictate the terms on which the U.S. engages with Taipei.
“We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan. They are not doing our travel schedule,” said Pelosi.
And noting Taiwan’s flourishing democracy and respect for human rights, Krishnamoorthi said China would have been against the trip whenever it happened.
“I think the timing would always be a problem for the Chinese Communist Party. I think they would basically say we should never go to Taiwan,” said Krishnamoorthi. “They want to have complete control over what happens with Taiwan and they want to strangle that democracy.”