The Speaker of the US House of Representatives is expected Monday in Singapore, the first leg of an Asian tour that could include a trip to Taiwan.
The trip could further aggravate already strained relations between Beijing and Washington. After having long maintained the vagueness around her program in Asia, Nancy Pelosi announced on Sunday that she was driving “a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region to reaffirm America’s unwavering commitment to its allies and friends in the region“.
“In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, we will hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can promote our common values and interests, including peace and security, economic growth and trade. , the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governanceshe added, without mentioning Taiwan in her itinerary.
For weeks, tensions between the United States and China have been rising over reports that it may visit the self-governing island, which China considers part of its territory.
Beijing would see a passage, even brief, of the speaker of the House of Representatives on the island as a provocation. Delegations of US officials travel to Taiwan frequently to express their support, but a visit by Nancy Pelosi, one of the state’s most senior figures and one of the heavyweights in American political life, would be unprecedented since that of her predecessor. Newt Gingrich in 1997.
SEE ALSO – Beijing reiterates warning of ‘serious consequences’ of Pelosi visit to Taiwan
The United States practices a so-called “strategic ambiguity” diplomacy with regard to Taiwan, consisting in recognizing only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide decisive support to Taipei but in refraining from saying whether or not they would militarily defend the island in the event of an invasion. It is this concept that has so far made it possible to maintain a certain stability in the region.
Regarding Nancy Pelosi, the sequence is delicate: the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a central figure in President Joe Biden’s Democratic majority, but her possible stopover in Taiwan would singularly complicate the task of American diplomacy, which is trying to avoid not sour relations with China.
Last week, during a rare direct exchange with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden assured that the United States’ position on Taiwan had “not changed“and that his country”strongly opposed unilateral efforts to alter the status quo or threaten peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait“.
For his part, Xi Jinping had called on Joe Biden not to “don’t play with fire“, and a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy had spoken of a trip by Nancy Pelosi to the island as a”Red line“.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit comes as military tension mounts in the region.
Taiwan’s military conducted its largest annual military exercises this week, which included mock interceptions of Chinese attacks from the sea.
Meanwhile, the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its flotilla left Singapore for the South China Sea as part of a scheduled operation, the US Navy said.
And on Saturday, as a response, China organized a military exercise “live ammunitionin the Taiwan Strait.
Washington has sought to downplay Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan and called on Chinese leaders for calm.
“We have many differences when it comes to Taiwan, but over the past forty years we have managed those differences and done so in a way that has preserved peace and stability.said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday.
In Taiwan, opinions are divided on the prospect of a visit by Nancy Pelosi, but figures from the ruling party and the opposition have said that the island must not give in to Chinese pressure.
SEE ALSO – Washington will have to bear ‘all’ consequences if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, warns Beijing