Pelosi starts Asian tour with speculation over Taiwan visit
In this photo provided by Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore on Monday, August 1.
KUALA LUMPUR (AP):
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with officials in Singapore on Monday at the start of her Asian tour, as questions swirled over a possible stop in Taiwan that has fuelled tension with Beijing.
While there have been no official announcements, local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi will arrive on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking elected US official to visit in more than 25 years. The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times – Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers – cited unidentified sources as saying she would arrive in Taipei after visiting Malaysia and spend the night.
Such a visit will spark fury in Beijing, which regards Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly warned of “serious consequences” if the reported trip goes ahead.
“If Pelosi insists on visiting Taiwan, China will take resolute and strong measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in Beijing, without giving details.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Zhao said. “We would like to once again admonish the US that we are fully prepared for any eventuality, and the PLA will never sit idly by.” The People’s Liberation Army is China’s military.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also warned the US against meddling in Beijing’s dealings with the island in a phone call last week with President Joe Biden.
China has been steadily ratcheting up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. Threats of retaliation for a visit by Pelosi have driven concerns of a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides, that could roil global markets and supply chains.