KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore early Monday, kicking off her Asian tour as questions swirled over a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Pelosi’s delegation arrived in the city before dawn. Because they weren’t authorized to reveal details, the two spoke under cover of anonymity.
Pelosi was to call on Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and meet with a number of Cabinet Ministers, said a spokesperson for Singapore’s foreign ministry.
Also, she is expected to attend an American Chamber of Commerce cocktail reception in Singapore. The visit has not been made public and is therefore closed to media.
In a statement over the weekend, Pelosi said she will also visit Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and “democratic governance.”
She didn’t confirm news reports that she might visit Taiwan, which is claimed by Beijing as its own territory. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in Beijing’s dealings with the island in a phone call last week with his American counterpart, Joe Biden.
Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support. Pelosi would head one of three U.S. branches and be the most senior elected American official who has visited Taiwan since 1997, when then-Speaker Newt Geingrich.
The Biden administration has tried to assure Beijing there was no reason to “come to blows” and that if such a visit occurred, it would signal no change in U.S. policy.
In 1949, Taiwan and China were divided by communists who won civil war against the mainland. Each side claims they are one nation, but differs on which government has the right to be in national leadership. Both sides have no formal relations. However, they are connected by billions in trade and investments.
Although the United States moved diplomatic recognition of Taipei to Beijing from 1979, they maintain informal relations with Taiwan. Federal law obligates Washington to ensure Taiwan is capable of self-defense.
Washington’s “One China policy” says it takes no position on the status of the two sides but wants their dispute resolved peacefully. Beijing promotes an alternative “One China principle” that says they are one country and the Communist Party is its leader.
Pelosi would make Taiwan her career-highlight, using her post in Congress increasingly as an American emissary on a global stage. Pelosi has always criticized China over human rights, and she wanted to travel to Taiwan in the early part of this year.
Pelosi’s delegation includes U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; Suzan DelBene, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform; and Andy Kim, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
—Soo reports from Hong Kong
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