J. Scott Applewhite/AP
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore early on Monday, kicking off her Asian tour as questions swirled over a possible stopover in Taiwan that has fueled tensions with Beijing.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Pelosi and his delegation landed in the city-state before dawn. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media.
Pelosi will visit Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and meet with a number of Cabinet ministers, a Singaporean foreign ministry spokesperson said.
She is also expected to attend a cocktail party with the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. The media does not have access to his visit, which was kept secret.
In a statement over the weekend, Pelosi said she would also travel to Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and of “democratic governance”.
She did not confirm reports that she may travel to Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own territory. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against interfering in Beijing’s relations with the island during a phone call last week with his American counterpart, Joe Biden.
Beijing sees official US contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its 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.
The Biden administration tried to assure Beijing that there was no reason to “sell hands” and that if such a visit took place, it would signal no change in US policy.
Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides say they are one country but disagree on which government is entitled to national leadership. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment.
The United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but maintains informal relations with the island. Washington is obligated by federal law to ensure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.
Washington’s “one China policy” indicates that it takes no position on the status of the two sides but wants their dispute to be resolved peacefully. Beijing promotes an alternative “one China principle” that says they are one country and the Communist Party is its leader.
A visit to Taiwan would be a career cornerstone for Pelosi, who is increasingly using his position in Congress as an American envoy on the world stage. She has long challenged China on human rights and wanted to visit Taiwan earlier this year.
Pelosi’s delegation includes U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; Suzan DelBene, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Raja Krishnamoorthi, member of the House Standing Select Committee on Intelligence and Chairman of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee; and Andy Kim, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.