Los Angeles Times

Taiwan not listed on Pelosi itinerary


BEIJING — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DSan Francisco) confirmed Sunday that she will visit four Asian countries this week but made no mention of a possible stop in Taiwan that has riled Beijing, which claims the democratic island as its own territory.

Pelosi said in a statement that she is leading a congressio­nal delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and “democratic governance.”

She has yet to confirm news reports that she might visit Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in Beijing’s dealings with the island in a phone call Thursday with his American counterpar­t, President Biden.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragem­ent to make the island’s decadesold de facto independen­ce permanent. Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the U.S. government, would be the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

“Under the strong leadership of President Biden, America is firmly committed to smart, strategic engagement in the region, understand­ing that a free and flourishin­g Indo-Pacific is crucial to prosperity in our nation and around the globe,” Pelosi’s statement said.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment.

The U.S. switched diplomatic recognitio­n from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but maintains informal relations with the island.

Beijing has given no details of how it might react if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, but the Defense Ministry warned last week that the military would take “strong measures to thwart any external interferen­ce.” The Foreign Ministry said that “those who play with fire will perish by it.”

The ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, has flown growing numbers of fighter planes and bombers around Taiwan to intimidate the island.

“The air force’s multitype fighter jets fly around the treasured island of the motherland, tempering and enhancing the ability to maintain national sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity,” military spokesman Col. Shen Jinke said Sunday, referring to Taiwan.

Pelosi said her delegation includes U.S. Reps. Gregory W. Meeks of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano of Riverside, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; Suzan DelBene of Washington, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Raja Krishnamoo­rthi of Illinois, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligen­ce and chair of the Subcommitt­ee on Economic and Consumer Policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Andy Kim of New Jersey, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees.

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