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Pelosi arrives in Malaysia as tensions mount over potential visit to Taiwan: NPR


This handout photo from the Malaysian Department of Public Information, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, greets the media as she visits parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

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Pelosi arrives in Malaysia as tensions mount over potential visit to Taiwan: NPR

This handout photo from the Malaysian Department of Public Information, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, greets the media as she visits parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

PA

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday for the second leg of an Asian tour that was overshadowed by a planned stopover in Taiwan, which would escalate tensions with Beijing. who claims the self-governing island as his own. territory.

The plane carrying Pelosi and her delegation landed at an Air Force base under tight security. She called Lower House Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun in parliament and adjourned for a lunch meeting with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Although there was no official announcement, local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday evening, becoming the highest elected US official to visit in more than 25 years. The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times – Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers – quoted unidentified sources as saying she would fly to Taipei and stay overnight after visiting Malaysia.

China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force if necessary, has warned of the repercussions, saying its military “will never stand idly by” if Pelosi continues his visit. Threats of retaliation from China have raised fears of a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides, that could upend global markets and supply chains.

The White House on Monday denounced Beijing’s rhetoric, saying the United States had no interest in deepening tensions with China and “will not take the bait or indulge in swordplay.”

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stressed that the decision whether or not to visit the self-governing island is ultimately up to Pelosi. He noted that members of Congress have visited Taiwan regularly over the years.

Kirby said administration officials are concerned that Beijing could use the visit as an excuse to take provocative retaliatory measures, including military actions such as firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan, or aerial sorties in the island’s airspace and large-scale naval operations. exercises in the strait.

“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit in line with long-standing US policy into some kind of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged China to “act responsibly” in case Pelosi continues his visit.

“If the speaker decides to surrender and China tries to create some kind of crisis or escalate tensions, it would be entirely on Beijing,” he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. York. “We are looking for them, in case she decides to visit, to act responsibly and not to escalate in the future.”

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. The United States maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan even though it recognizes Beijing as the government of China.

Beijing sees official US contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi, head of one of the three branches of the US government, would be the highest elected US official to visit Taiwan since President Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Pelosi kicked off her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday, but her alleged visit to Taiwan has raised concerns in the region.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong “stressed the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security” during talks with Pelosi, the city-state’s foreign ministry said. . This was echoed by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Tokyo, who said stable ties between the two rival powers “are also extremely important to the international community”.

The Philippines urged the United States and China to be “responsible players” in the region. “It’s important that the United States and China maintain ongoing communication to avoid miscalculations and further escalation of tensions,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Teresita Daza said.

China has steadily increased diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. China cut off all contact with the Taiwanese government in 2016 after President Tsai Ing-wen refused to endorse his claim that the island and mainland together form a single Chinese nation, with the communist regime in Beijing the only one. legitimate government.

Pelosi is due to meet South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo in Seoul on Thursday for talks on Indo-Pacific security, economic cooperation and the climate crisis, according to Kim’s office. Pelosi is also due to travel to Japan, but it is unclear when she will be there.

NPR News

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