US House Speaker Pelosi begins tour of Asia, not mentioning Taiwan

  • Pelosi will tour Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan
  • No mention of Taiwan on his agenda
  • Chinese Air Force reiterates willingness to defend territory
  • Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea

BEIJING, July 31 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicks off a tour of four Asian countries on Sunday, her office said, without mentioning Taiwan amid heightened speculation she might visit the autonomous island claimed by China.

“Spokesperson Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan,” her office said in a statement.

He said the visit would include those countries, but did not specify whether Pelosi, who is No. 3 in the presidential line of succession, might make other stops.

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“The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the delegation.

Pelosi was expected to arrive in Singapore on Monday for a two-day visit, broadcaster CNA reported, citing the country’s foreign ministry. The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was scheduled to have a reception with her on Monday afternoon, according to her website.

China believes that visits by US officials to Taiwan send an encouraging signal to supporters of independence on the island. Washington has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

A visit by Pelosi would be a dramatic, if not unprecedented, display of US support for Taiwan. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House Speaker to visit Taiwan in 1997.

President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden on Thursday that Washington must abide by the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire will perish for it.”

Biden told Xi that the US policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington firmly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. read more

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Friday after the call between Xi and Biden that Taiwan would continue to deepen its close security partnership with the United States.

Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media as saying on Sunday that Beijing would “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Shen told a military air show that the air force has many types of fighter jets capable of flying over “the precious island of our motherland,” referring to Taiwan.

He said that “China’s air force has the strong will, full confidence and sufficient ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A comment by a unit of the People’s Liberation Army on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social network, posted on Friday: “Prepare for war!” – received 1.87 million thumbs up.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

As the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the South China Sea on Thursday, the Chinese military stepped up exercises in the surrounding area.

On Saturday, the Chinese military conducted live-fire drills in the waters off Fujian province, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Taiwan, according to local authorities.

The Chinese coast guard will hold an exercise in the South China Sea off Guangzhou province on Monday, according to another notice from the Maritime Safety Administration.

Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin said on Saturday he had deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation if US warplanes escorted Pelosi on a visit to Taiwan, after Twitter blocked his account. read more

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday that the United States has seen no evidence of impending Chinese military activity against Taiwan. read more

On Wednesday, Biden told reporters that he thought the US military believed that a visit by Pelosi to Taiwan “wasn’t a good idea right now.”

Pelosi’s Asian tour comes at a politically sensitive time for Chinese and American leaders.

Xi is expected to seek an unprecedented third term in a Congress later this year, while in the United States, Biden’s Democratic Party will face an uphill fight to retain control of the US House of Representatives. in the November midterm elections.

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Information from Yew Lun Tian; Edited by William Mallard, Himani Sarkar, and Sandra Maler

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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