The stop — the first by a US House speaker in 25 years — is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at a low ebb.
The Taiwanese official added that he is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. It’s unclear when Pelosi will land in Taipei.
“The issue of Taiwan is a very important, core issue in China-US relations,” US China Ambassador Qin Gang said at the Aspen Security Forum in July.
Biden said last month that the US military opposed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but has since declined to elaborate on the warnings. Where he travels is up to the Speaker of the House, and the White House has said they have little say in his decision.
Still, administration officials have worked to spell out the risks of visiting Taiwan in meetings with Pelosi and her team in recent weeks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said he discussed the Asia trip with Pelosi.
When Pelosi travels abroad, the administration pays extra attention to her security because she is in the line of succession to the presidency.
Administration officials have expressed concern that Pelosi’s trip comes at a particularly tense time, with Xi expected to seek an unprecedented third term at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party congress. Chinese party officials are expected to lay the groundwork for that conference in the coming weeks, putting pressure on the leadership in Beijing to show strength.
Officials believe the Chinese leadership does not fully understand the political dynamics of the United States, leading to misunderstandings over the significance of Pelosi’s potential visit. Officials say China may have confused Pelosi’s visit with an official administration visit because she and Biden are Democrats. Administration officials worry that China doesn’t separate Pelosi much from Biden.
Pelosi has long been a critic of the Chinese Communist Party. He met with pro-democracy dissidents and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who is a thorn in the side of the Chinese government. In 1991, Pelosi unfurled a black-and-white banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square commemorating the victims of the 1989 massacre that read “To those who died for democracy.” In recent years, he has voiced his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The Chinese embassy in the US has opposed her expected visit, which was planned before Pelosi tested positive for Covid-19 in April, urging members of Congress not to tell the speaker.
“I would say there’s been a full-court message from the Chinese embassy to discourage travel to Taiwan,” Representative Rick Larson, a Washington Democrat who co-chairs the congressional US-China task force, told CNN. “I don’t think it’s their business to tell us what to do. That’s my message.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the United States, responded that his office was in “regular contact” with members of Congress, including Larson.
“On the Taiwan question, we have expressed our position loud and clear,” Pengyu said. “The Embassy is making every effort to prevent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan from damaging peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the stability of Sino-US relations.”
“We hope that serious consequences can be avoided,” he added. “This is in the common interests of both China and the United States.”
Many Democrats and Republicans in Congress said it was Pelosi’s right to travel to Taiwan.
“Whether Taiwan goes or not is Speaker Pelosi’s decision, not any other country’s,” said Illinois Republican Rep. Darin LaHood, Larsen’s Republican representative on the US-China task force. “In our democratic system – we operate with separate but equal branches of government.”
“It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to affect the ability or right of the Speaker, members of Congress or other US government officials to travel to Taiwan or anywhere else around the world,” he added.
Other members seemed more wary of the diplomatically sensitive trip.
California Democrat Rep. Judy Xu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, said she would “always support Taiwan.”
But when asked if the visit to Taiwan now would send the wrong message, Xu said, “You can look at it two ways. One is that relations are very strained now. But on the other hand, you can tell when Taiwan should show strength and support.”
Asked what she thought, she said, “I’ll leave that to whoever is going to decide.”
This story was updated Monday with additional details.
CNN’s Nectar Gan contributed to this report.