Aug 1, 2022
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Pelosi’s plans to visit Taiwan have a new intrigue

The visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan will still take place, CNN reports, citing Taiwanese and American official sources. The plans of a third person in Washington’s political hierarchy to visit the island provoked a strong reaction in China.

Nancy Pelosi is still expected to visit Taiwan as part of her tour of Asia, according to CNN, citing a senior Taiwanese government official and US official, despite warnings from Biden administration officials who are concerned about China’s reaction to such a high-profile visit.

The visit to Taiwan – the first for a speaker of the US House of Representatives in 25 years – is currently not included in Pelosi’s publicly announced Asian tour itinerary and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at a low point.

The Taiwanese source added that the speaker of the US House of Representatives is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. It is not yet clear exactly when Pelosi will fly to Taipei.

The US official added that US Department of Defense officials are working around the clock to monitor any movement of Chinese in the region and develop a plan to secure Pelosi’s trip.

The issue of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, remains one of the most contentious, notes CNN. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed the topic at length during a two-hour, 17-minute phone call on Thursday amid mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive and important key issue in China-US relations,” Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang said at the Aspen Security Forum in July.

Joe Biden said last month that the US military opposes Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but argues in the White House that the Speaker of the House is free to decide where she goes and that they have little influence on her decision.

Yet in recent weeks, Biden administration officials have been working to clarify the risks of a visit to Taiwan in meetings with Pelosi and her team. Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin recently said he had discussed a visit to Asia with Pelosi.

The US administration takes special care of Pelosi’s safety when she travels abroad because she is in the presidential line of succession.

Administration officials are concerned that Pelosi’s trip comes at a particularly tense moment as Xi is expected to seek an unprecedented third term at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party convention. Chinese party officials are expected to begin laying the groundwork for this forum in the coming weeks, pressuring the leadership in Beijing to show strength.

US officials also believe that the Chinese leadership does not fully understand the political dynamics in the United States, leading to a misunderstanding of the importance of Pelosi’s possible visit. Officials say China could confuse Pelosi’s visit with an official administration visit, since both she and Biden are Democrats. Administration officials are concerned that China does not separate Pelosi much from Biden, if at all.

Pelosi has long been known as a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party. She met with pro-democracy Chinese dissidents and the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese Embassy in the United States objected to her pending trip to Taiwan, which was scheduled for April before Pelosi tested positive for COVID-19.

“On the Taiwan issue, we have made our position clear and clear,” said Liu Penyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the United States. “The Embassy is working hard to ensure that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the stability of Sino-US relations are undermined by a potential visit by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.”

“We hope that serious consequences can be avoided,” he added. “It’s in the common interest of both China and the US.”

Many Democrats and Republicans in Congress have said that Pelosi has the right to travel to Taiwan.

“The decision to go to Taiwan is made by Speaker Pelosi, not by any other country,” said Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood. “In our democratic system, we work with separate but equal branches of government. It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to interfere with the ability or right of the speaker, members of Congress, or other US government officials to travel to Taiwan or anywhere else in the world.”

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