Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Malaysia on Tuesday for the second leg of the Asian tour, which was hit by an expected halt in Taiwan that would escalate tensions with China. Beijing claims the self-governing island as its territory.
The plane carrying Pelosi and his delegation landed at the air base amid tight security. He met Azhar Azizan Haroon, the speaker of the lower house in parliament and adjourned a meeting with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yacoub for lunch.
Although no official announcement has been made, local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi would be leaving Malaysia for Taipei, which would make her the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years. The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times – Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers – said she would fly to Taipei, citing unnamed sources.
The Wall Street Journal also said that Pelosi would stay in Taiwan.
The US military plane carrying Pelosi’s delegation took a sharp turn north after heading east for several hours from Kuala Lumpur. This put the plane on a trajectory to land in Taipei from the east – if that is indeed the destination.
CBS News had no confirmation that Pelosi was on the plane or was flying to Taiwan, but a senior administration official said more information should be known about her travel plans by “mid-morning,” That would track with a mid-morning landing. Taipei.
That flight path takes the plane far beyond the Chinese mainland, avoiding the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, where Chinese warplanes are reportedly flying Tuesday morning.
China, which treats Taiwan as a renegade province, will be annexed by force if necessary, has warned of repercussions, Saying that its army “will never sit idly by” If Pelosi continues the journey. China’s threats of retaliation have raised concerns of a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides, that could affect global markets and supply chains.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that Beijing is in communication with Washington about Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan, according to Reuters.
Agence France-Presse reports that Chunying also warned that the US would “pay the price” if Pelosi visited Taiwan.
AFP quoted him as saying, “The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price of undermining China’s sovereign security interests.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned on Tuesday that such a Pelosi stop in Taiwan would be “extremely provocative”, adding that it would “exacerbate the situation and fuel tensions in the region.”
Speaking in a call with reporters, Peskov reaffirmed Russia’s “absolute solidarity” with China, noting that the Taiwan issue is very sensitive to Beijing.
“Instead of dealing with this sensitivity with respect, America has regrettably chosen the path of confrontation,” he said. “It will not bring good, we can only express regret.”
The White House on Monday denounced Beijing’s rhetoric, saying the US has no interest in deepening tensions with China and “will not take the bait or saber.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby underlined that the decision to visit the self-governing island was ultimately Pelosi’s. He said members of Congress have been visiting Taiwan regularly over the years.
Kirby said administration officials are concerned that Beijing may use the visit as an excuse to take provocative retaliatory measures, including military action such as missiles in the Taiwan Straits or around Taiwan, or the island’s airspace. involves flying and navigating extensively. Exercise in the Strait.
“Simply put, Beijing has long-standing US policy to use a potential visit as an excuse to turn a potential crisis into some sort of crisis or to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said. There’s no reason to.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged China to “act responsibly” if Pelosi goes ahead with the visit.
“If the speaker decides to travel, and China tries to create any kind of crisis or escalate tensions, it will be entirely on Beijing,” he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York. “We are looking for her if she decides to travel, act responsibly and is not involved in any enhancements going forward.”
US officials have said Army will increase the movement of its forces and properties in the Indo-Pacific if Pelosi visits Taiwan. The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were in the Philippine Sea on Monday, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.
Reagan, the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins left Singapore after a port visit and headed north to their homeport in Japan. The carrier has a range of aircraft including F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters as well as sophisticated radar systems and other weapons.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland. The US maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan, while it recognizes Beijing as the government of China.
Beijing sees official US contact with Taiwan as an incentive to make the island’s decades-long de facto independence permanent, a move US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi, the head of one of the three branches of the US government, will be the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Pelosi began her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday, but her alleged trip to Taiwan caused a stir in the region.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong “highlighted the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security” during talks with Pelosi, the city-state’s foreign ministry said. This was echoed in Tokyo by Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who said stable relations between the two rival powers “are also extremely important to the international community.”
The Philippines urged the US and China to be “responsible actors” in the region. “It is important for the United States and China to ensure continuous communication to prevent any miscalculations and escalation of tensions,” said foreign affairs spokeswoman Teresa Daza.
China is continuously increasing diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. China cut all contact with the government of Taiwan in 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen refused to support his claim that the island and the mainland together form a Chinese nation, with the Communist regime in Beijing being the only legitimate government. Is.
Pelosi is scheduled to meet South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo in Seoul on Thursday for talks on security, economic cooperation and economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. climate crisisAccording to Kim’s office. Pelosi is also scheduled to visit Japan, but it is not clear when she will be there.