US House Speaker Pelosi begins her Asian tour, without mentioning Taiwan

  • Pelosi is touring Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan
  • Taiwan is not mentioned on its agenda
  • Chinese Air Force confirms determination to defend Earth
  • Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicked off a four-nation Asian tour on Sunday without mentioning Taiwan, her office said, amid intense speculation that she might visit the self-governing island claimed by China.

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

The statement said the visit would include those countries, but did not specify whether Pelosi, who is third in the presidential succession line, would stop again.

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

Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the delegations on the list.

China views US officials’ visits to Taiwan as an encouraging sign for the island’s pro-independence camp. Washington does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is obligated by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

Pelosi’s visit 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 adhere to the one-China principle and “those who play with fire will die because of it.”

Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and Washington is firmly opposed to 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 will continue to deepen its close security partnership with the United States.

State media quoted Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinqi as saying on Sunday that Beijing “will vigorously protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

At a military air show, Chen said the Air Force has many types of combat aircraft capable of circling the “precious island of our motherland,” referring to Taiwan.

“The Chinese Air Force has the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capacity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

A comment from a Chinese People’s Liberation Army unit on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like social media, on Friday – “Get ready for war!” He got 1.87 million thumbs up.

South China Sea

With the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group back in the South China Sea by Thursday, the Chinese military has stepped up exercises in the vicinity.

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

The Chinese Coast Guard will conduct exercises in the South China Sea off Guangzhou Province on Monday, according to another notice issued by the Maritime Safety Administration.

Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin said on Saturday he had deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation if US fighter jets accompanied 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 not seen any evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan. Read more

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he believes the US military believes Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “is not 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 Congress later this year, while in the United States, Biden’s Democratic Party will face a fierce battle to retain control of the US House of Representatives in the November midterm elections.

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(Reporting by Yu Lun Tian) Editing by William Mallard and Himani Sarkar

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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