A senior White House source said Chinese President Xi Jinping personally asked President Joe Biden to find a way to stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan.
Xi made the request during a July 28 call with Biden, just days before Pelosi, D-N.Y., left on a swing through Asia that included a stop in Taipei, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The source told The Post that the request came following "myriad" threats from China about the consequences the visit might entail to relations between the United States and China.
"We've seen a number of announcements from the [People's Republic of China] in just the last several hours that are unfortunately right in line with what we had anticipated," White House spokesman John Kirby told The Post Aug. 2. "China has positioned itself to take further steps, and we expect that they will continue to react over a longer-term horizon."
The Post reported that Biden refused Xi's request, telling the Chinese leader that Pelosi heads an "independent" branch of the U.S. government and was free to make her own decisions regarding travel.
Biden also reportedly warned Xi against "taking provocative actions" in retaliation for her visit to Taipei, The Post reported.
During her visit, Reuters reported, Pelosi highlighted the "strong" friendship between the U.S. and the self-governing island just off China's mainland and pledged "bipartisan support" for keeping the situation as it is.
"The fact is — I have said it again and again — if we do not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights anyplace in the world," she said in the Reuters report. "China has some contradictions: some progress in terms of lifting people up, some horrible things happening in terms of the Uyghurs. In fact, it's been labeled a 'genocide.'"
It was the first time the speaker of the house, the third highest-ranked U.S. official, visited Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich did in 1997, according to an April 6 Bloomberg article.
In July, Biden himself tried to dissuade Pelosi, saying publicly that "the military thinks it's not a good idea right now," Politico reported Aug. 3.
"By openly arguing among ourselves about Pelosi's travel, we made the trip a public spectacle, forcing Beijing to react," David R. Stilwell, former assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs told Politico. "Had we done the trip quietly, as we usually do, it would have generated none of the brinkmanship we're seeing now."
While China did not take a direct action against Pelosi or her entourage during the visit, it did hold a series of military exercises around the island for more than a week, at times sending missiles over its airspace, Reuters reported.
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