Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will provide China a “victory of sorts” if she backs off from an expected trip to Taiwan.
The Kentucky Republican was asked about the speaker traveling to Taiwan amid China’s threats and said there are other matters beyond the trip that should be discussed.
“If she doesn’t go now, she’s handling China a sort of a victory of sorts,” McConnell said at a Senate Republican leadership news conference on Tuesday.
Instead, he said the emphasis should be on making sure that the “weapons systems that they actually have meet the threat that they might actually have to endure. And that requires I think a good deal more emphasis on Taiwan defense than we’ve had.”
China, reacting this weekend to a possible visit by Pelosi later this summer, escalated its warnings to the US — even a possible military response.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday said: “We are seriously prepared.”
Asked what that meant, he responded, “If the US side is bent on going its own way, China will take strong measures to resolutely respond and counteract.”
“The United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” he added.
Amid the heightened tensions, Taiwan’s capital Taipei staged air raid drills and the country’s military conducted joint air and sea exercises that involved the mobilization of tanks and troops on Monday.
Sirens blared throughout the city as people took to shelters and shops closed.
“In recent years, Chinese military planes have frequently harassed Taiwan, and the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out in February this year,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je told reporters, referring to fears that Beijing could follow Moscow’s example and invade Taiwan.
“All these things make us understand the importance of being vigilant in times of peace and we need to be prepared if there is war.”