Nancy Pelosi went to Singapore, silence on Taiwan

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to appear in Singapore on Monday as part of a closely-watched tour of Asia that has stoked fears of dangerously heightened tensions with China, including at the highest levels of the US government. She’ll make a stop. in Taiwan.

Ms Pelosi did not confirm whether she would visit Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of 23 million people that China claims as its territory. But she had proposed a trip to the island this year, which was postponed because she contracted the coronavirus, and when recently asked about her travel plans, she said “showing support for Taiwan is our was important.”

On Sunday, Ms Pelosi revealed some more details about her itinerary, which she had previously declined to disclose, citing security concerns. his office said Statement that his visit, accompanied by a small congressional delegation, would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to “focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region” “ A posting on the website of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore said Ms Pelosi would attend a cocktail reception hosted by the group on Monday afternoon.

The prospect of a visit by Ms Pelosi to Taiwan – who will be the highest-ranking US official to visit there since 1997, when the previous House speaker, Newt Gingrich, visited – comes at a particularly delicate time in US-China relations. The Biden administration has become concerned that Chinese leader Xi Jinping may try to move forward, perhaps with force, against Taiwan within the next year and a half.

Mr. Xi, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades, has vowed to reunify with Taiwan, although he did not specify a time frame. Some analysts fear he may feel pressured to take a tough stand – possibly including military action – against any perceived challenges to that pledge at a crucial Chinese Communist Party congress this fall, when he is expected to be elected as leader. is expected to claim a third term.

Mr Biden himself has pointed to the risk of a confrontation with China if Ms Pelosi does visit. When asked about the proposed visit by journalists recently, he said that “the military thinks it is not a good idea right now.” The president is also increasing US ties with Asian allies as a possible counterpoint to the rise of China.

China did not specify how it would react if Pelosi’s visit went ahead. According to a statement from the Chinese government, during a two-hour phone call on Thursday between Mr. Xi and Mr. Biden, their first direct conversation in four months, Mr. Xi warned Mr. Biden against “playing with fire” over the Taiwan issue. Gave. which did not explicitly mention the Speaker of the House.

Others have been more direct in condemning the possible trip. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, told reporters last week that China would take “firm and resolute measures” if Ms Pelosi visits Taiwan and the United States will be “responsible for all dire consequences.” Some political analysts and state media commentators have suggested that China will activate its air force to halt the visit – raising fears of an armed conflict.

chinese army announced It will exercise with ammunition on Saturday in the waters of southeastern Fujian province, about 80 miles from Taiwan. On Sunday, a spokesman for the Chinese Air Force Told That the country’s fighter planes flew around Taiwan to enhance its ability to defend territorial integrity, without specifying the dates.

According to the White House, the Biden administration insists that its stance on Taiwan has not changed, a message that Mr Biden delivered to Mr Xi during his phone call. Long-standing US policy, without endorsing China’s position, accepts Taiwan as part of its territory, and believes that the United States will defend the island without explaining how.

But the president has little official authority over Ms Pelosi and her travel plans. And rising anti-China sentiment in both the Democratic and Republican parties has made it politically awkward for Mr Biden to openly discourage his visit.

Some Chinese and US analysts have underestimated the risks of a military escalation, noting that Mr. Xi will probably want to avoid unpredictability ahead of the party congress this year. White House national security spokesman on Friday told reporters That the United States had seen no evidence of impending Chinese military activity against Taiwan.

At the same time, domestic politics in both China and the United States had left little room for graceful de-escalation, said Chen Qi, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. If Ms Pelosi decides not to visit Taiwan, it could overwhelm Democrats politically, Professor Chen said in a statement. Interview with a journalist for Xinhua, State News Agency of China. And China could not afford to be seen as weak in the face of perceived provocation.

“Now it depends who blinks first,” Professor Chen said.

john liu And Claire Fu Contributing Research

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