President Biden said Monday he was “concerned” but also “not worried” about Chinese saber-rattling near Taiwan — sending mixed messages following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip, which escalated tensions and which Biden once again declined to endorse.
“I’m not worried, but I’m concerned that they’re moving as much as they are,” the president told reporters as he departed Delaware to tour recent storm damage in Kentucky.
“I don’t think they are gonna do anything more,” added Biden, despite Beijing extending military drills beyond their scheduled Sunday conclusion.
When asked for his thoughts on Pelosi (D-Calif.) visiting the island nation, Biden said: “That’s her decision.”
The Speaker and five other Democratic members of Congress arrived in Taiwan for a 19-hour visit last week, defying warnings from Beijing that she risked having her US Air Force jet shot down for violating Chinese sovereignty.
The Chinese military has staged exercises since Thursday that appear to simulate a blockade and invasion of Taiwan, which has been de facto independent since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Biden claimed weeks ahead of Pelosi’s visit that the Pentagon wanted her to cancel the trip, though the Defense Department declined to publicly confirm that assertion.
Pelosi was the highest-ranking US elected official to visit Taiwan since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1997.
Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping the week before Pelosi’s visit. During that call, Xi warned Biden during a discussion of Taiwan that “those who play with fire will perish by it,” according to Beijing’s Foreign Ministry.
The president said during a May press conference in Tokyo that “yes” the US would defend Taiwan against an attack from mainland China — prompting his subordinates to insist there was no change in the US “One China” policy, which acknowledges but does not endorse Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the island.
The latest tensions around Taiwan come amid uncertainty about whether the Biden family still is in business with the Chinese government.
First son Hunter Biden cofounded an investment firm called BHR Partners in 2013 less than two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two. Hunter introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November summit with Xi that the first son divested his 10% stake in BHR, which is controlled in part by state-owned entities, but Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details and online business records indicate that Hunter still owns the 10% stake.
Joe Biden also was allegedly involved with his son’s dealings with CEFC China Energy, which the Washington Post reported paid Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says that he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the deal and a May 13, 2017, email says that the “big guy” would get a 10% stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC. Bobulinski and that email’s author, James Gilliar, have since identified the president as the “big guy.”