If US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushes ahead with a visit to Taipei this week, it will create the greatest test of Chinese and American resolve over Taiwan in more than three decades, putting immense pressure on the world's two most powerful men. USSC's Associate Professor David Smith tells the ABC that for decades Pelosi has been a constant critic of the Chinese government and has often aligned with the more hawkish voices in the United States on Taiwan. 

"She wants to do this now because it's her last chance. It's highly likely the Republicans will win midterm elections this year, they'll take back control of the House, and at 82, this is likely the end of her tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives," he said.

Dr Smith noted that the White House could not control her overseas trips but might be pressuring her not to go. 

"If she doesn't end up going to Taiwan, I expect there will be a huge discourse about how the Biden administration is backing down and being humiliated."