SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi kicked off a well-attended Asian tour in Singapore on Monday, as China warned its military would “never sit idly by” if it was traveling to Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by Beijing.
Amid widespread speculation that she plans to make a stopover in Taiwan, Pelosi’s office announced on Sunday that she was leading a congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. . He did not mention Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it would be “blatant interference in China’s internal affairs” if Pelosi visited Taiwan, and warned it would lead to “developments and consequences very serious”.
“We would like to tell the United States once again that China is here, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never stand idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity,” Zhao told a regular. daily briefing.
Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao replied, “If she dares to go, let’s wait and see.”
China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as an encouraging signal for the island’s pro-independence camp. Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is required by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
A visit by Pelosi, third in line to the presidency and a longtime critic of China, would come amid deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last Speaker of the House to visit Taiwan, in 1997.
In a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and “those who play with fire shall perish.”
Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
On Monday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang did not directly respond when asked if Pelosi would visit on Thursday, as local media speculated.
“We always warmly welcome visits to our country from distinguished foreign guests,” he told reporters in Taipei.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said if Pelosi traveled to Taiwan it would trigger Beijing’s strongest countermeasures in years, but he didn’t expect that. this triggers a major military conflict.
“China has unequivocally reiterated its opposition to Taiwanese separatism. The United States has repeatedly said that its one-China policy has not changed and that it opposes any change in the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. -he declares.
“Except by accident, I’m sure neither side would intentionally take military action that could result in a major security risk.”
On Monday, Pelosi and her delegation met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, discussing issues including cross-Strait relations, the war in Ukraine and climate change, the Singaporean foreign ministry said.
“Prime Minister Lee stressed the importance of stable relations between the United States and China for regional peace and security,” he said.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future.
Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters he believed the U.S. military believed a visit by Pelosi to Taiwan was “not a good idea right now.”