US Warns China Against Turning Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Visit Into A “Crisis”

US warns China not to turn Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan into 'crisis'

According to media reports, Nancy Pelosi will make a stopover in Taiwan and meet President Tsai Ing-wen. (File)

Singapore:

The White House warned China on Monday not to overreact to a trip by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, saying it would have every right to visit the self-ruled island, despite Beijing seeing it as a very provocative challenge.

China doesn’t need to turn Pelosi’s visit into a “crisis,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, warning that Beijing could “position” itself for a show of military strength around it. Island.

According to media reports, Pelosi, who is currently on an official Asia tour, will make a stopover in Taiwan on Wednesday to meet President Tsai Ing-wen — if so, the US’s highest visit to Taipei in decades.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan its territory, has reacted angrily to the idea, warning President Joe Biden that his government was “playing with fire” and announcing a series of live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

While the White House and the State Department were both against Pelosi’s trip, Kirby made it clear that the speaker — who is second in line for the U.S. presidency — had the right to come and go as she pleased.

“The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan,” he told reporters, adding: “There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing US policy into a kind of crisis.”

Kirby cited information that China was preparing possible military provocations, including firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or “large-scale” raids on Taiwan’s airspace.

Pelosi kicked off her trip on Monday with a stop in Singapore, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged her at a rally to strive for “stable” ties with Beijing.

Her itinerary also includes Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, but the prospect of visiting Taiwan has dominated attention.

‘Nothing has changed’

Speculation about Pelosi’s plans has coincided with an increase in military activity in the region.

Kirby said the United States “will not be intimidated” into continuing to move freely in the Pacific.

However, he tried to ease the tension by emphasizing several times that US policy toward Taiwan was unchanged. This means support for his self-governing government, while diplomatically recognizing Beijing over Taipei and opposing either a full independence bid by Taiwan or a forceful takeover by China.

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “There’s certainly no reason to let this fail.”

Kirby confirmed that Pelosi is traveling on a military plane and said Washington is not afraid of a direct attack, but warned it “raises the stakes of miscalculation.”

Pelosi’s office has said her trip “will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region,” referring to Asia-Pacific.

Taiwan was not mentioned in the statement. But visits by US officials there are usually kept secret until the delegations land.

Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Hun labeled such a visit “very dangerous, very provocative,” as he spoke to reporters on Monday.

“If the US insists on making the visit, China will take firm and strong measures to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said at a briefing.

The Global Times, the state-run Chinese tabloid, suggested that Pelosi could use “emergency excuses such as a plane failure or refueling” to land at a Taiwanese airport.

“If she dares to stop in Taiwan, it will be the time to set fire to the powder keg of the Taiwan Strait situation,” tweeted Hu Xijin, former Global Times editor and now commentator.

And the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command shared images on social media site Weibo of a combat-ready army with fighters and helicopters taking off, amphibious troops landing on a beach and a stream of missiles raining down on various targets.

“We will bury all enemies who invade our territory,” read a short caption accompanying the images.

“We are ready to fight,” it added. “Towards a united struggle and a victorious war.”

Taiwanese government silent

Taiwan’s 23 million residents have long lived with the possibility of invasion, but the threat has increased under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

US officials often make discreet visits to Taiwan to show support, but a Pelosi trip would be more eye-catching than in recent history.

The government of Taiwan has remained silent about the prospect of a visit to Pelosi and there has been minimal coverage in the local press.

“I really hate what the Chinese are doing,” Hsu Ching-feng, a fruit seller in Taipei, told AFP.

“But we ordinary people can’t do anything about it, except ignore them.”

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)

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