Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would cause ‘severe damage’, China warns

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China’s foreign ministry responded Tuesday after reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was planning a trip to Taiwan in August and said she firmly opposed a visit.

Pelosi had planned to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan, the Democratic island claimed by Beijing, in April but delayed her trip to Asia after contracting the coronavirus.

A visit this summer would make Pelosi one of the most senior U.S. politicians to visit Taiwan in recent years and the first speaker of the House since Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1997.

Pelosi’s office told The Washington Post on Tuesday, “Due to long-standing security protocols, we do not pre-approve or deny international travel.” The Financial Times was first to report news of Pelosi’s trip, saying that she would also visit Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia .

“If the United States insists on going ahead, China must take decisive and vigorous action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Such a trip would “seriously harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added, and “seriously damage the political foundations of China-US relations.”

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Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said her agency had received no information about reports of Pelosi’s visit.

Claiming Taiwan as its own, Beijing has pledged to achieve so-called “reunification,” threatening to use force if necessary to take control of the self-governing island. For decades, the United States has walked a fine line, not commenting on the status of Taiwan’s sovereignty but repeatedly declaring that it opposes any unilateral change in the status quo.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, President Biden sent an unofficial delegation of former US defense and national security officials to Taiwan in March to show that US commitment to Taiwan remained “rock solid.”

The European war and superpower invasion of its neighbor have had particular resonance in Asia, with Taiwan taking steps to bolster its military preparedness against any attack from China, while Beijing has ramped up its rhetoric towards Taipei in recent months.

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During his first trip to Asia as president in May, Biden signaled a more confrontational approach toward China and warned sharply of a possible attack on Taiwan. Asked whether the United States would defend Taiwan militarily if attacked by Beijing, Biden said, “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.”

His comment marked a departure from standard US policy of remaining vague on the issue and was quickly dismissed by advisers and criticized by Beijing at the time. The United States has long maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity about the extent of U.S. aid, deliberately unclear about what it would do when it comes to defending Taiwan.

Zhao told reporters at a news briefing on Tuesday that Congress, as part of the US administration, should stick to the one-China policy, citing the United States’ long-standing position of acknowledging Beijing’s claim that there is only one China understand that Taiwan’s fate will not be decided by force.

Pelosi has been a vocal critic of China and met with Taiwan Vice President William Lai Ching-te practically in January while he was in the United States. He thanked her for her human rights work and called her a “true friend” of Taiwan.

Taiwan has lived under military threat from Beijing since communist forces defeated the nationalists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, prompting the nationalists to flee to Taiwan and form a rival government.

In recent years, Beijing and Washington have had an increasingly strained relationship over trade, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China’s claims to the South China Sea and Hong Kong’s autonomy, among other issues.

China’s defense minister, Gen. Wei Fenghe, in June called Washington a “tyrant” and vowed to “fight to the end” to take over Taiwan if a confrontation is forced, prompting a war of words with the United States.

Lily Kuo, Amy B. Wang, and Bryan Pietsch contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/19/nancy-pelosi-visit-taiwan-china/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_national Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would cause ‘severe damage’, China warns

James Brien

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