China has stepped up its warning against Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, saying its military “will not sit idly by” if it continues this week.
The explicit message came amid reports that the US House Speaker, who began her Asia tour this weekend, could arrive in Taipei on Tuesday and as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA ) of China was celebrating the 95th anniversary of its founding.
China spokesman Zhao Lijian said that due to Pelosi’s status as the “No. 3 US government official”, a visit to Taiwan, which China claims as its own province, “would lead to a flagrant political impact”.
The potential Taiwan leg of Pelosi’s tour is not yet on his public schedule. If she makes the visit, it will be the first for a U.S. House speaker in 25 years. In 1997, when then-speaker Newt Gingrich visited, Beijing protested the trip but eventually swallowed its irritation.
Officially, Pelosi will only visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan on this trip. But Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Democrat Anna Eshoo told US media last week that Pelosi had invited them to Taiwan. The two declined due to a scheduling conflict.
Pelosi’s trip comes at a time of extreme geopolitical uncertainty in the region. On Monday, she and a delegation of six members of Congress held talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The Singaporean leader “stressed the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security,” according to an official statement from Lee’s office.
Ahead of the founding anniversary of the PLA on Monday, the Chinese military conducted “live-fire drills” near the Pingtan Islands off Fujian province, according to the official Xinhua news agency on Saturday. . The Maritime Safety Administration has warned ships to avoid the area.
Since news of Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan emerged a fortnight ago, state media in Beijing has stepped up its criticism of US policy on Taiwan. In recent days, Chinese diplomats have also repeated China’s position, reiterating Beijing’s “one China principle”, on social media.
In Taiwan, speculation about Pelosi’s potential visit is rife, with some sources suggesting she will land in Taipei on Tuesday and spend the night there. The Taiwanese government has not publicly commented on the reports.
George Yin, a senior scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies at National Taiwan University in Taipei, said the United States faces a strategic dilemma when it comes to stabilizing the Taiwan Strait.
“On the one hand, the United States must signal its support for Taiwan, especially since China often portrays the United States as a paper tiger that lacks the will to come to the aid of Taiwan,” Yin said.
“On the other hand, the United States must reassure China that it always abides by the one-China principle. Pelosi’s expected visit illustrates how difficult it is to strike a good strategic balance.”