BEIJING — US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Sunday that she will visit four Asian countries this week, but made no mention of a possible stop in Taiwan, which has fueled tensions with Beijing, which claims the island democracy as its own territory .
Pelosi said in a statement she is leading a congressional delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and “democratic governance.”
Pelosi is yet to confirm news reports that she may visit Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against interfering in Beijing’s deals with the island in a phone call with his American counterpart, President Joe Biden, on Thursday.
Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its decades of de facto independence permanent, a move US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the US government, would be the highest-ranking US elected official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
The Biden administration did not specifically ask Pelosi to avoid Taiwan, but tried to reassure Beijing that there was no reason for “brawling” and that such a visit would not signal a change in US policy.
“Under the strong leadership of President Biden, America is firmly committed to intelligent, strategic engagement in the region and understands that a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific is critical to the prosperity of our nation and around the world,” the Pelosis said Explanation.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides say they are one country but disagree on which government is entitled to national leadership. They have no official ties, but are linked through billions of dollars of trade and investment.
The United States moved diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but maintains informal ties with the island. Washington is required by federal law to ensure Taiwan has the means to defend itself.
Washington’s “one China policy” says it is not about the status of the two sides, but wants their dispute settled peacefully. Beijing is promoting an alternative “One China Principle” that says they are one country and the Communist Party is their leader.
Members of Congress publicly supported Pelosi’s interest in visiting Taiwan despite Chinese opposition. They want to avoid giving in to Beijing.
Beijing has not given details on how it might respond if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, but the Defense Department warned last week the military would “take strict measures to thwart any outside interference.” The Foreign Office said: “Whoever plays with fire will perish.”
The ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, has flown increasing numbers of fighter jets and bombers over Taiwan to intimidate the island.
“The Air Force’s multi-type fighter jets fly around the cherished island of the motherland, strengthening and strengthening the ability to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” military spokesman Col. Shen Jinke said Sunday, referring to Taiwan.
Pelosi said her delegation included US Reps Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano, chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; Suzan DelBene, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Raja Krishnamoorthi, member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform; and Andy Kim, member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee.
A visit to Taiwan would be a career crownstone for Pelosi, who is increasingly using her position in Congress as a US emissary on the global stage. She has long challenged China on human rights and planned to visit Taiwan earlier this year.
In 1991, as a new member of Congress, Pelosi angered Chinese authorities by unfurling a banner in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing commemorating those killed when the Communist Party cracked down on pro-democracy protests two years earlier.
“It’s important for us to show our support for Taiwan,” Pelosi, a Democrat from California, told reporters this month.
But she had made it clear that she did not support any changes in US policy.
“None of us have ever said that we are pro-independence when it comes to Taiwan,” she said. “Taiwan must decide that.”
On Friday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tried to assuage concerns.
“There’s no reason for fights to happen,” Kirby said at the White House. “There’s no reason for that because American policy on One China hasn’t changed.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/pelosi-confirms-trip-asia-no-mention-taiwan-rcna40831 Pelosi confirms trip to Asia but no mention of Taiwan