US House Speaker Pelosi kicks off Asia tour, no mention of Taiwan

BEIJING, July 31 (Reuters) – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will embark on a tour of four Asian countries on Sunday, her office said, not naming Taiwan amid intense speculation she could visit the self-governed island that claimed by China.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan,” her office said in a press release.

The release said the visit would include those countries but did not specify whether Pelosi, who is number 3 in the line of presidential succession, would make other stops.

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“The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region,” it said.

Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was one of the delegations on the list.

China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Washington has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden on Thursday that Washington must abide by the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire will perish.” read more

Biden told Xi that US policy towards Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral attempts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media on Sunday as saying that Beijing “will resolutely protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” referring to Taiwan.

Shen said at a military air show that the Air Force has many types of fighter jets capable of orbiting “our motherland’s precious island.” He said the Chinese Air Force has the determination, full confidence and sufficient capacity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A unit of the People’s Liberation Army said on Twitter-like social media Weibo on Friday: “Prepare for war!”

Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin said on Saturday he deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation if US fighter jets escort Pelosi on a visit to Taiwan after Twitter blocked his account. read more

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Friday the United States has seen no evidence of impending Chinese military activity against Taiwan. read more

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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