President Biden needs to make clear to China that any harm to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her trip to Taiwan would be "tantamount to a declaration of war," Republican Florida lawmaker and retired Green Beret commander Michael Waltz told Fox News on Friday.
China's government has warned it will take "forceful measures" if Pelosi visits Taiwan after the Financial Times reported she would travel to the Chinese-claimed island nation next month. Hu Xijin, former chief editor of the Global Times, called Pelosi's planned visit an "invasion," and suggested shooting down the speaker's plane if U.S. fighter jets escort it to Taiwan.
A U.S. government official said, "This is unnecessary rhetoric, and the U.S. policy toward Taiwan remains unchanged."
On "The Story" on Friday, Waltz said the Biden administration needs to take a much stronger stance with China and unequivocally show its support for Pelosi.
"This is an unacceptable threat. Speaker Pelosi, regardless of what you think of our politics, is the number three in line for the presidency of the United States," Waltz said, arguing the White House is again diplomatically dithering at a key moment.
"Once again, we see the Biden White House failing to be clear on what the United States finds acceptable and unacceptable — and in this case, need to make it clear that should any harm come to Speaker Pelosi and her trip to Taiwan, it's tantamount to a declaration of war," he said. "That's the kind of clarity we need from the commander-in-chief right now. And we're just not getting it."
Waltz added that no matter what conservatives think of the left-wing Democratic Party leader's politics, when an official of the U.S. government is threatened by an adversarial power, all sides must be united.
President Xi Jinping, facing a historic likely third term in power at an upcoming Communist Party Congress, conversely believes he cannot be embarrassed by the U.S., as China claims ownership of Taiwan a.k.a. the Republic of China, Waltz said.
When pressed by FOX Business correspondent Edward Lawrence, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to go into specifics on the matter earlier Friday.
Waltz told "The Story" that Pelosi backing down or the White House convincing her to stay home would amount to a propaganda victory for Xi — and a silent but obvious diplomatic overture to Indo-Pacific U.S. allies like the Republic of Korea, Australia and Japan that the U.S. may not have their back if they, too, are threatened by Xi.
"What I wanted to see from Biden was a clearer statement, a policy shift. He slipped in this regard when he was in Japan, where he said absolutely we'll defend Taiwan. Then his staff walked it back," he said.
Waltz added the incident shows why the 1972 "One China" policy the U.S. agreed to with the post-Mao government is outdated, even from the time the last speaker to visit Taiwan. Newt Gingrich in 1997, did so.
The U.S. must make clear to the Chinese that Taiwan is to be seen as a sovereign democratic state, which is currently led by President Tsai Ing-wen, Waltz stressed.