No evidence of looming Chinese military action against Taiwan, U.S. official says

·2-min read
Illustration shows Chinese and Taiwanese flags

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States has seen no evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday when asked about a possible visit to the island by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"(We've) seen no physical, tangible indications of anything untoward with respect to Taiwan," Kirby told reporters. Pelosi has not confirmed a potential trip to Taiwan.

Tensions around Taiwan were a dominant topic on Thursday in a phone call between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi warned against playing with fire over Taiwan.

China has been stepping up military activity around Taiwan seeking to pressure the democratically elected government there to accept Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan's government says only the island's 23 million people can decide their future, and while it wants peace, it will defend itself if attacked.

Pelosi, who as House speaker is No. 3 in the line of U.S. power hierarchy after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, signaled on Friday she was going on a trip to Asia.

She did not say she was going to Taiwan.

"I'm very excited, should we go, to the countries that you'll be hearing about along the way," she said, after citing the importance of the U.S.-Asia-Pacific relationship.

The White House has refused to comment on reports that she will go to Taiwan.

"Where she's going and what's she's going to be doing, that's for the speaker to talk to," Kirby told reporters.

Kirby said U.S. officials have seen bellicose rhetoric from China about a potential trip by Pelosi and said, "there's no need for that."

A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the military had so far not sent additional ships or planes near Taiwan in recent days.

The United States already has a large military presence in the Asia-Pacific, including around the South China Sea, through which a U.S. aircraft carrier is currently sailing.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Rami Ayyub; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Idrees AliEditing by Alistair Bell)

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