Status: 01.08.2022 4:39 p.m.
Amid tensions between Beijing and Washington, US House Speaker Pelosi has begun her tour of Asia. Several media are reporting on a possible shutdown in Taiwan – which China is urgently warning against.
Amid tensions over a possible visit to Taiwan, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has embarked on her high-profile trip to Asia.
According to the city-state’s foreign ministry, Pelosi met President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a first stopover in Singapore. He announced on Twitter that he spoke to Pelosi about issues including US economic engagement in Singapore and climate change.
Is Pelosi visiting Taiwan?
Observers around the world are eagerly awaiting a possible visit to Taiwan by Pelosi – China had announced a strong reaction in this matter. Even before the trip began, there was much speculation as to whether the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives would visit the island after US broadcaster CNN and Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported a possible visit, citing unnamed sources.
Taiwan media recently reported on a possible Pelosis detour, scheduled for Tuesday. The newspaper “Liberty Times” for example announced that the Democrat would go to Parliament in Taipei on Wednesday.
The “Taiwan question” is still open
Although Taiwan isn’t on her official itinerary, that doesn’t mean Pelosi’s visit there is ruled out. The trips of US officials to the island nation are generally kept secret until they land. China’s state-run Global Times newspaper wrote that the prominent representative of the US Democrats could use “an emergency landing due to a technical problem or lack of fuel” as an excuse.
Pelosi has yet to say whether she plans to travel to Taiwan. The US government has stressed that a possible visit by Pelosi would not change US policy on Taiwan.
China warned Pelosi of a visit to Taiwan
A visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be highly explosive. Low-key solidarity visits by US officials to Taiwan are not uncommon – but if Pelosi were to visit Taipei, it would be the most significant US visit in decades. Because Democrat Pelosi is – after the President and his Vice President – the third most powerful politician in the United States.
A visit to Taiwan by Pelosi would therefore be seen by China as a provocation by the United States – Beijing had previously warned the Democrat not to include the island state as a stopover on her trip to Asia. In a phone call to US President Joe Biden on Thursday, Chinese head of state Xi Jinping warned against “playing with fire”. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman threatened Pelosi with “decisive and strong countermeasures” just before the trip began.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province
The background to the tensions is that China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland – if necessary using military force. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has raised fears that Beijing is heading for similar action towards Taiwan.
The United States applies a policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan – without specifying whether the United States would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion. Although Washington does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent state, it maintains informal relations with the government in Taipei. The United States is required by federal law to maintain Taiwan’s defense capability.
Other stations are Japan and South Korea
Other stops mentioned during his trip to Asia are Malaysia, Japan and South Korea. According to Pelosi, this is meant to underscore the United States’ commitment to its allies and friends in the region. The focus is on “common security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region”, she said.