House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi started a tour of four Asian countries yesterday without mentioning Taiwan amid intense speculation she might visit the self-ruled island claimed by China. Her press release states she is leading a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region includes visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. Pelosi, number 3 in the presidential succession line, is expected to visit those countries, but the release did not specify whether she might visit others. According to the press release, the trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership, and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific.
China sees visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan as encouraging signals for Taiwan’s pro-independence camp. While Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself. Pelosi’s visit would be a dramatic but not unprecedented demonstration of U.S. support for Taiwan. In 1997, Newt Gingrich was the last speaker of the House to visit Taiwan. On Thursday, President Xi Jinping warned his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden that those who play with fire would perish by it.
In his remarks to Xi, Biden emphasized that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposed unilateral attempts to change the status quo. As a result of the call between Xi and Biden, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced Friday that it would deepen its security partnership with the U.S.
According to state media, Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke said on Sunday that Beijing would safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
During a military airshow, Shen said the air force has a variety of fighter jets that can circle Taiwan. China has the will and confidence to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
There were 1.87 million thumbs-ups for a comment by a People’s Liberation Army unit on Weibo, Con Friday – “Prepare for war!”
SOUTH CHINA SEA
On Thursday, as the USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the South China Sea, the Chinese military increased exercises in the area. Local authorities report that the Chinese military conducted live-firing drills off Fujian province on Saturday, over 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Taiwan. According to another notice by the Maritime Safety Administration, Monday will be a day of exercise for the Chinese coast guard in the South China Sea.
As of Friday, the United States has not seen any indication of Chinese military activity against Taiwan, according to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby. According to Biden, it is not a good idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.
The Chinese and American leaders are sensitive to the timing of Pelosi’s Asian tour. At the end of the year, Xi is expected to seek a record-breaking third term in Congress, while the Democratic Party will struggle to retain control of the House of Representatives.