House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that she is leading a delegation to Asia but did not mention a stop in Taiwan, a potential visit that has roiled already tense relations between Beijing and Washington and has prompted threats from China.
The California Democrat’s office in a statement Sunday said the speaker and the congressional contingent will visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to “hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security.” economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance.”
The statement did not address a controversial possible stop in Taiwan.
China considers self-governed Taiwan part of its territory and has threatened to reunify the country – by military force if necessary.
China’s Xi Jinping warned President Biden during a 137-minute phone call last week about interfering with Taiwan amid news of Pelosi’s trip.
“The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” China’s foreign ministry said in a readout of Thursday’s call. .
“The public opinion cannot be challenged. Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this.”
On Sunday, the People’s Liberation Army, which has for months been flying fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace to intimidate the island, said it will “safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Military spokesperson Shen Jenke said the air force has an array of warplanes capable of circling “the precious island of our motherland” in a reference to Taiwan.
A Chinese government propagandist deleted a Tweet on Saturday that claimed Beijing could shoot down Pelosi’s plane if it is escorted by US military aircraft to Taiwan.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is [an] invasion,” tweeted Hu Xijin, a columnist for the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Global Times. “The [People’s Liberation Army] has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction.”
“If ineffective, then shoot them down,” Hu added in the now-deleted posting.
Pelosi, behind only Vice President Kamala Harris in the line of presidential succession, would be the highest-ranking lawmaker to visit Taiwan since House Speaker Newt Gingrich traveled there in 1997.
Accompanying Pelosi are Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York, Mark Takano of California, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Andy Kim of Pennsylvania.
With Post wires