US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday confirmed she is to visit four Asian countries this week, but made no mention of a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing.
“The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement.
The all-Democrat delegation includes US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks, and members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Committee on Armed Services.
“Our delegation will 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,” Pelosi said in the statement.
The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Pelosi’s delegation would visit today and tomorrow, with meetings scheduled with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍).
Pelosi has yet to confirm news reports that she might visit Taiwan.
The US President Joe Biden’s administration did not explicitly urge Pelosi to avoid Taiwan, but tried to assure Beijing there was no reason to “come to blows” and that if such a visit occurred, it would signal no change in US policy.
US lawmakers publicly backed Pelosi’s interest in visiting Taiwan despite Chinese opposition. They want to avoid being seen as yielding to Beijing.
Beijing has given no details of how it might react if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, but the Chinese Ministry of National Defense last week warned that the military would take “strong measures to thwart any external interference,” while the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “those who play with fire will perish by it.”
The Japanese daily Ryukyu Shimpo yesterday reported that nine US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft, two C-2 transport planes and one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter on Saturday arrived at the US Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa.
Their arrival might be related with Pelosi’s rumored visit to Taiwan, the report said.
A visit to Taiwan would be a career capstone for Pelosi, who has long challenged China on human rights and wanted to visit Taiwan earlier this year.
In 1991, Pelosi irked Chinese authorities by unfurling a banner at Tiananmen Square in central Beijing commemorating those killed when the Chinese Communist Party crushed pro-democracy protests two years earlier.
“It’s important for us to show support for Taiwan,” Pelosi, a Democrat from California, told reporters this month.
She made clear that she was not advocating US policy changes.
“None of us has ever said we’re for independence, when it comes to Taiwan,” she said. “That’s up to Taiwan to decide.”
Additional reporting by staff writer
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