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Nancy Pelosi plans to visit Taiwan despite Chinese threats | International

Nancy Pelosi is determined to visit Taiwan. The president of the House of Representatives of the United States began on Sunday a controversial trip through the Asia-Pacific region in whose official itinerary the island did not appear. But the scale was taken for granted this Monday in the US media, after anonymous sources from the White House confirmed these plans despite serious Chinese threats. Its president, Xi Jinping, warned Joe Biden last Thursday in a video call that this trip would be equivalent to “playing with fire.” The tension between the two powers continues to grow at the mere idea that Pelosi sets foot in a territory that Beijing considers its own, and, therefore, unable to maintain international relations independently.

John Kirby, White House National Security spokesman, has joined the daily press conference that Karine Jean-Pierre usually offers alone to try to take the iron out of the crisis. Kirby has assured that they have no confirmation that Pelosi will travel. “But if he goes, if he decides to go, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. The president [de la Cámara de Representantes] he is free to make his decisions and go to Taiwan, as is any member of Congress. We just give you information about her safety. If that visit finally takes place, nothing will change in our attitude towards the island. There is no drama,” he said.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has abounded in New York, for his part, in the idea that the Joe Biden Administration is not aware that the decision has been made. “I trust that China will act responsibly and not contribute to an escalation of tension,” he added. according to digital Nikkei Asia, the US military is moving military forces, including aircraft carriers, closer to Taiwan.

From Beijing, the response has left little room for imagination: China has reiterated this Monday that if Pelosi sets foot on the island, there will be “forceful measures”. Its Foreign Ministry reiterated this Monday that the People’s Liberation Army -which was celebrating its 95th anniversary that day- will not sit idly by” and “will adopt forceful measures” if “the Number Three of the American Government” travels to Taiwan. When asked what kind of reply could be expected from the Chinese Army, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied: “If he dares to go, then let’s wait and see.”

Such a high-level meeting—the first in 25 years since Republican Newt Gingrich visited Bill Clinton in the White House—would be seen as a genuine provocation by China. Beijing firmly opposes any show of support for Taiwan’s independence by the United States and has promised that it will not waver if that happens. Xi Jinping himself warned his counterpart last Thursday during the telephone call between the two that the US should not “question the firm will of the 1.4 billion Chinese.” The question of Taiwan, one of the issues that generates the most disagreements and tensions between the two governments, occupied much of the two hours and 17 minutes of conversation between the two leaders.

The day began with a message from a Taiwanese television reporter TVBS on his Twitter account, in which he reported that the Democratic legislator is expected to land on the island on Tuesday night. The CNN network confirmed this point, citing “a high-ranking Taiwanese government official and a US official.” Biden last week shared the Pentagon’s concern over a trip that raises serious security questions. Officials in Washington have blamed those concerns on the fact that the stop was not included in the initial plan of the trip. The opposite would have given Beijing clues about Pelosi’s movements. Biden, who served as a senator for 36 years, is a firm believer in the independence of the Legislative power from the Executive, which is why, according to several analysts, he has not put more pressure on Pelosi to make her change her mind. Kirby has assured the media that during last week’s call, the US leader “made it clear” to Xi.

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Pelosi and her congressional delegation were in Singapore on Monday, the first stop on her controversial Asian tour. It is considered that they will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday, where the veteran politician will meet on Wednesday, if the plans are fulfilled, with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Neither the Presidential Office nor the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry have commented on the matter.

“We believe that the United States has understood the loud and clear message that China sent [el jueves]. If Pelosi visits Taiwan, it will be a heinous meddling in China’s internal affairs, seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, wantonly trampling on the One China principle, seriously threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and deeply damaging Sino-American relations,” the Chinese government spokesman warned. “The US side should honor President Biden’s promise that he will not support Taiwan independence,” Zhao added.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, leaves the Shangri Hotel after a reception hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Singapore on Monday.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, leaves the Shangri Hotel after a reception hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Singapore on Monday.ROSLAN RAHMAN (AFP)

The US government source quoted by CNN affirms that the Department of Defense is working against the clock to monitor any movement of the Chinese Army in the region. As Pelosi is the second personality in the line of presidential succession (after the vice president, Kamala Harris), his plane flies under the strictest security protocols.

For Beijing, visiting the self-ruled island with top US officials sends a message of support for Taiwan’s independence drive. Since they reestablished their bilateral relations in 1979, the ties of the two largest economies on the planet have been based on the One China principle, which implies precisely that: there is only one China, and this includes Taiwan, where they took refuge in 1949 the nationalist troops defeated by the communist army in the civil war. However, for Washington the expression means only that it recognizes the Beijing government as a representative of China and that the status of Taiwan is not determined. With Taipei, he maintains a “strategic ambiguity”: he sells him weapons for self-defense and Biden himself has declared himself willing on a couple of occasions to provide him with military assistance in the event of an attack.

Since Tsai Ing Weng, a supporter of a move away from Beijing, was elected president of Taiwan in 2016, the rhetoric of the Chinese authorities has been increasingly assertive about a future unification, which they consider “inevitable”. Pelosi’s trip has led the Xi Jinping government to raise its tone. The Chinese leader can afford fewer weaknesses than ever as he heads into the 20th Communist Party Congress, where he is expected to be re-elected for an unprecedented third term since Mao Zedong.

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