The Chinese and Taiwanese militaries dispatched fighter jets, ordered military
exercises and bolstered combat readiness as Taiwan prepared to host House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for a visit that has triggered dire warnings from China’s
leadership and sharply escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Mrs Pelosi, the US House of Representatives Speaker, touched down in Malaysia on
Tuesday on her tour of Asia.
Taiwanese and US media says she plans to visit Taipei on Tuesday night, but there’s
been no official confirmation.
However responding to reporter questions on Tuesday, Taiwan’s premier Su Tseng-
chang said the island “warmly welcomes” any foreign guests.
He added Taiwan “would make the most appropriate arrangements” for any visitors.
Taiwan is a self-ruled island, but claimed by China, which sees it as a breakaway
Beijing has warned of “serious consequences” if Mrs Pelosi visits.
While the US maintains what it calls a “robust, unofficial relationship” with Taiwan, it
has formal diplomatic relations with China and not Taiwan.
On Monday, China’s United Nations envoy Zhang Jun warned the visit would
undermine relations between Beijing and Washington. China’s Foreign Ministry also
said a Pelosi visit would “constitute a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”
adding: “Those who play with fire will perish by it”.
There is strong bipartisan support for Taiwan among the American public and in the
US Congress. And Mrs Pelosi, a senior figure in the Democratic Party, has long been a
vocal critic of the Chinese leadership, denouncing its human rights record. She has
previously met pro-democracy dissidents and visited Tiananmen Square to
commemorate victims of the 1989 massacre.
The speaker began her Asia tour on Sunday by flying to Singapore. Her public
itinerary also included stops in Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan – but did not
Mrs. Pelosi originally planned to visit Taiwan in April but postponed the trip after she
tested positive for Covid-19.
Earlier this month she said it was “important for us to show support for Taiwan”.