Nancy Pelosi leaves for Asia on Friday, but Taiwan stops still uncertain

Pelosi’s trip includes stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, all US allies in the region.

But a return to self-governing Taiwan was still only tentative, as China issues warnings about a possible visit by the Speaker of the House and US-China relations are at an all-time low.

Pelosi brings a delegation of fellow lawmakers on the visit. She declined to answer reporters’ questions about her plans, saying on Wednesday in response to a question about a possible visit to Taiwan: “I never talk about my trip. It’s a danger for me.”

Taiwan has become a serious point of contention between the United States and China, with US officials fearing a more imminent Chinese move on the self-governing island. National security officials have been quietly working to convince Pelosi of the risks his potential trip to Taiwan could pose during a very sensitive time.
In a long and candid phone call on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a stern warning to President Joe Biden on the issue.

“Public opinion should not be violated, and if you play with fire, you get burned. I hope the American side can see that clearly,” he told Biden, according to the news agency. Chinese state press.

Pelosi would be the first Speaker of the United States House to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.

Pressure campaign on Congress

The Chinese Embassy in the United States has urged members of Congress to tell Pelosi not to make the trip, which was scheduled for April before Pelosi tested positive for Covid-19.

“I would say there was a full legal press from the Chinese Embassy to discourage travel to Taiwan,” Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen, co-chair of the US-China Congressional Task Force, told CNN. “I just don’t think it’s their business to tell us what we should do. That was my message.”

Larsen said he met with China’s consul general in San Francisco in Seattle on Monday, and he also told Larsen to discourage Pelosi from traveling to Taiwan. The consulate did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s not my job to tell the speaker what he’s doing or not doing,” Larsen said. “She has a lot more experience than I do in these things. And so, I will trust her judgement.”

Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States, replied that his office is in “regular contact” with members of Congress, including Larsen.

“On the Taiwan issue, we have expressed our position loud and clear,” Liu said. “The Embassy is making every effort to prevent peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the stability of China-US relations from being jeopardized by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan.”

“We hope that serious consequences can be avoided,” he added. “It is in the common interests of China and the United States.”

Congressional Democrats and Republicans have said Pelosi has the right to travel to Taiwan.

“It’s President Pelosi’s sole decision whether or not to go to Taiwan, not any other country,” said Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood, Larsen’s Republican counterpart in the group. American-Chinese work. “In our democratic system, we operate with separate but equal branches of government.

“It is inappropriate for foreign governments, including the Chinese government, to attempt to influence the ability or right to travel of the President, members of Congress, or other U.S. government officials to Taiwan or anywhere else in the world.” , added LaHood.

Other members seemed more cautious about this potential and diplomatically sensitive trip.

California Democratic Representative Judy Chu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, said she had “always supported Taiwan”.

But when asked if a trip to Taiwan would now send the wrong message, Chu replied: “You can see it two ways. One is that relations are very strained at the moment. But another side, you could say maybe that’s when Taiwan also needs to show strength and support.”

When asked what she thinks about it, Chu replied, “I leave it up to whoever makes that decision.”

This story has been updated with additional background information.

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