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Singapore is where Pelosi starts a closely watched trip through Asia

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was set to start a tour of four Asian countries...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was set to start a tour of four Asian countries on Monday in Singapore. There was a lot of talk that she might risk angering Beijing by also going to Taiwan, a self-governed island that China claims as its own.

On Sunday, Pelosi's office said that she would be leading a group of Congress members to the area. The group would go to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. It didn't say anything about Taiwan.

China thinks that when U.S. officials go to Taiwan, they send a message of support to those on the island who want to be independent. Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it is required by law to give Taiwan the tools it needs to protect itself.

Pelosi is third in line to be president and has been a critic of China for a long time. If she went to China, it would come at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing are getting worse. Newt Gingrich, a Republican, was the last House speaker to go to Taiwan. That was in 1997.

During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden that Washington should stick to the "one-China" principle and that "those who play with fire will die by it."

Biden told Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

When asked directly on Monday if Pelosi will visit Taiwan on Thursday, as local media have speculated, Premier Su Tseng-chang did not say yes or no.

"We always welcome with open arms distinguished foreign guests who come to our country," he told reporters in Taipei.

Singapore's foreign ministry said that Pelosi's group would be in Singapore on Monday and Tuesday. They would meet with government officials, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. On Monday afternoon, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was planning to host a reception with her, according to its website.

State media reported on Sunday that Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the Chinese air force, said that Beijing would "resolutely protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Shen said at a military air show that the air force has many types of fighter jets that can circle "the precious island of our motherland," which is Taiwan.

Beijing thinks of Taiwan as part of its land, and it has never given up on using force to take control of the island.

Pelosi's trip to Asia comes at a tough time for both Chinese and U.S. leaders on the political front.

Later this year, at a congress of the ruling Communist Party that only happens every five years, Xi is expected to get a third term as leader, which would be a first. In the United States, it will be hard for Biden's Democratic Party to keep control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections in November.

Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters that he thought the U.S. military thought it was "not a good idea right now" for Pelosi to go to Taiwan.

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