August 10, 2022
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi begins Asia tour, amid discussions she may visit Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi begins Asia tour, amid discussions she may visit Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Asia comes at a politically sensitive time for Chinese and American leaders. (file)

Singapore:

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was set to visit four Asian countries in Singapore on Monday amid intense speculation that she could risk Beijing’s outbreak by visiting Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by China. .

On Sunday, Pelosi’s office announced that she was leading a congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. It made no mention of Taiwan.

China sees the visit by US officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp in the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is obliged by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

The visit of Pelosi, who is third in the line of presidential succession and a longtime critic of China, will come amid worsening relations between Washington and Beijing. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit Taiwan in 1997.

During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden that Washington should adhere to the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire will perish”.

Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral attempts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits.

On Monday, Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang did not respond directly when asked whether Pelosi would visit on Thursday, as local media speculated.

“We always warmly welcome visits by distinguished foreign guests to our country,” he told reporters in Taipei.

Broadcaster CNA quoted the country’s foreign ministry as saying that Pelosi is expected to arrive in Singapore on Monday on a two-day visit. The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was scheduled to host a reception with him on Monday afternoon, its website said.

On Sunday, Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media as saying Beijing would “firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Shen said at a military airshow that the Air Force has a variety of fighter jets capable of orbiting “the priceless island of our homeland”, referring to Taiwan.

Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Pelosi’s visit to Asia comes at a politically sensitive time for Chinese and American leaders.

Xi is expected to secure a third leadership term later this year, setting an example during the ruling Communist Party’s once-in-a-five five-year congress. In the United States, Biden’s Democratic Party faces an uphill battle to retain control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections.

Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters he thought the US military believed Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “isn’t a good idea right now”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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