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House Republicans criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s official trip to Taiwan last week as little more than “political theater.”
Several GOP lawmakers were asked about the visit by Fox News Digital during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas. Most argued that while it was important for the U.S. to stand up to communist China, Pelosi’s trip may have only served to enflame tensions.
“I am concerned that she created an international incident with what is essentially a farewell tour,” said Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. Republicans “will continue to stand strong for Taiwan. But we will do it in a way that doesn’t inflame tensions, and actually addresses the challenges facing that part of the world.”
Pelosi, D-Calif., became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan last week in more than two decades. The trip was fraught with tension, however, with relations between the U.S. and China escalating to a high point of President Biden’s White House tenure.
The visit saw communist China, which had threatened to shoot down Pelosi’s plane at one point, undertake live-fire military exercises near the border of Taiwan in a show of force.
Pelosi has defended the trip, saying it was worth it to show China the U.S. could not be intimidated.
GOP lawmakers question the point of the trip, however, since nothing has changed significantly in the region.
“What do we gain out of it? I think that we should have been showing support for Taiwan a lot earlier,” said Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas. “I think there’s a lot of things that you can do that sound good, look good… but let’s actually look at the policies that we’re putting in place that will make a difference.”
Other House Republicans said that Congress would be better served by focusing on addressing the military and technological gap between the U.S. and China.
“I don’t believe in photo op foreign policy,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. “I think that the best way to deter China is with American strength… I think the real focus ought to be making sure that America always holds the high grounds.”
The lead-up to the visit was parked with confusion as Pelosi refused to say whether she would visit Taiwan after being warned by Beijing against doing so. Pandemonium only ensued when reports emerged that White House officials had purportedly attempted to talk Pelosi out of making the trip.
However, the White House has denied that there was any “public spat” with Pelosi over the trip.
“I don’t know that there was a public spat with Speaker Pelosi,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told Fox News last week. “We’ve been nothing but consistent here at the White House that we respect her decision to go. This is her decision that we provided her obviously support context analysis that she needed to make her decision, but I don’t believe that there was a public spat.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., said the mixed messaging was not helpful given that China and other U.S. adversaries were looking for any sign of weakness.
“The speaker goes; we find out the president didn’t want her to go, then [White House adviser] John Kirby says we don’t support independent Taiwan. What are we doing here?” said Perry. “We need to be speaking with one voice as Republicans and Democrats for the good of our country and the good of the world.”
Other lawmakers told Fox News Digital the House Republican Conference was busy working on its own agenda for countering China and protecting Taiwan.
“I’m excited about Republicans taking control,” said Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah.