Pelosi to visit Taiwan as China threatens military action

Wednesday 03rd August 2022 06:51 EDT

Taipei: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to land in Taiwan on Tuesday evening in defiance of Chinese threats, a trip that would make her the highest-ranking American politician to visit the island in 25 years.

Pelosi is expected to arrive via private plane at Songshan Airport, according to the Liberty Times, one of several media outlets linked to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling party.

The South China Morning Post newspaper reported that the US Air Force jet that brought Pelosi to Malaysia had departed the capital. It wasn’t clear whether the US official was on board.

In a regular briefing, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it couldn’t comment on the speculation around Pelosi’s trip. “Taiwan always welcomes international visitors coming to Taiwan to gain a better understanding of Taiwan and to display their support for Taiwan,” Joanne Ou, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told reporters.

China, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, has vowed an unspecified military response to any Pelosi visit that risks sparking a crisis between the world’s biggest economies. President Xi Jinping on a call last week told President Joe Biden he would “resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that “whoever plays with fire will get burned.”

The US leader told Xi during the exchange that “Congress is an independent branch of government and that Speaker Pelosi makes her own decisions.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying hit back at that idea, saying Congress was part of the US government and should abide by its foreign policy.

“When the House speaker, being the third-highest ranking figure in the US government, flies on a US military plane to make a provocative visit to the Taiwan region, it is certainly not unofficial behavior,” she said at a briefing in Beijing, adding that any countermeasures from Beijing would be “justified” in response to such “unscrupulous behavior.”

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