August 12, 2022
Nancy Pelosi to meet with Taiwan’s President on Wednesday

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday on a controversial visit that has raised concerns about a possible military response from China.

Three people familiar with the situation said Pelosi would meet with Tsai in Taipei as part of a wider trip to Asia.

Pelosi did not include Taiwan on her official itinerary due to security concerns, but the Financial Times has previously reported that she will be the first speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China has issued a stern warning to the Biden administration, saying the People’s Liberation Army could take action if the 82-year-old Democrat goes ahead with his planned visit.

President Joe Biden sent senior officials, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, to risk Pelosi, but people familiar with the situation said he had decided to go ahead with the historic visit.

Many Republicans and some Democrats have urged Pelosi to go ahead, arguing that any decision to postpone or cancel would be a surrender to China. But the White House is concerned it could lead to a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, where tensions have risen over the past year.

A longtime critic of China, particularly on human rights, Pelosi would be the senior-most lawmaker to have visited Taiwan since Speaker Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.

Beijing opposes all visits by US lawmakers to Taiwan, over which it claims sovereignty. But it is particularly sensitive to Pelosi’s visit because he is second in presidential succession after the vice president, and belongs to the same party as Biden.

His visit will also come months before the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, in which President Xi Jinping is expected to get an unprecedented third term as leader.

Beijing has accused the US of undermining its “one China” policy, under which Washington recognizes Beijing as China’s sole government, but does not support Beijing’s stance that Taiwan is part of China.

The US military is preparing to rescue Pelosi aboard a US Air Force plane. Some experts believe that China will try to shoot down his plane, but Chinese fighters may try to intercept his plane. This could lead to a dangerous situation as the US military would be forced to intervene to protect Pelosi and her delegation.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “If a decision is made that Speaker Pelosi or someone else is going to visit and they ask for military support, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure the safe conduct of their visit.” Will, will.” In response to a question from FT last week.

Beijing intensified its threats on Monday. After China’s Maritime Security Administration last week conducted live-fire exercises by the PLA in Pington, an island in the Taiwan Strait and other exercises in the South China Sea, the China Maritime Security Administration said there would be more drills in the region from Tuesday to Saturday.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will not sit back,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign minister, told reporters on Monday.

Taipei has not seen a significant increase in PLA activity in its vicinity over the past week, a senior Taiwanese official said, but China’s military had intensified its activities around Taiwan in the past weeks, familiar with the situation. people said.

A second senior Taiwanese official said, “They have been increasing the pressure lately.” “They are sending both planes and ships in large numbers and are getting closer.”

According to data from Taiwanese national security officials, on July 24, the PLA conducted three-way joint air and sea maneuvers around Taiwan. These include an attack drone and a destroyer on its eastern flank, an anti-submarine warfare aircraft flying around its southern tip, and two fighter jets and a reconnaissance aircraft, which form its “air defense detection zone”. infiltrating the south-western edge of ,

A day after those movements – some of which have not been made public – Japan’s military said another type of Chinese attack drone had flown over Yonaguni, a Japanese island near Taiwan’s east coast.

Data published by the Japanese military and Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense also shows that since the second half of June, the PLA has intensified activity in Japan’s southern islands and Taiwan’s ADIZ.

obey Demetri Sevastopulo And Katherine Hill on twitter

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