U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore Monday at the start of her trip to several Asian nations.
There has been much media speculation about whether Pelosi will visit Taiwan during her trip. Speculation means ideas or guesses about something that is not known. The speculation has caused Chinese officials to speak out and warn the speaker not to visit Taiwan.
In Singapore, Pelosi met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Halimah Yacob and other Cabinet members, the country’s foreign ministry announced.
The ministry said in a statement that Lee and Pelosi discussed the war in Ukraine, tension surrounding Taiwan and China, and climate change. Lee expressed to Pelosi “the importance of stable U.S.-China relations for regional peace and security," the ministry added.
In a statement over the weekend, Pelosi said she planned to visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Pelosi, a member of the Democratic Party, did not confirm news reports that she might also visit Taiwan.
China considers Taiwan a rebel territory. Chinese officials have said the government plans to one day reclaim the territory and would use force to do so if necessary.
The United States government does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. This is because the U.S. has relations with the government in Beijing under what is known as the one-China policy.
Taiwan rejects Beijing’s territorial claims over the island.
Even though the U.S. does not have official diplomatic ties, American law states that the U.S. is required to assist Taiwan in defending itself.
During a phone call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned American President Joe Biden that the U.S. should obey the one-China policy. Xi told Biden that "those who play with fire will perish by it."
Biden told Xi that the U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed. He added that the U.S. favors continued peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian repeated earlier warnings by China. He said there would be “serious consequences” if Pelosi made a visit to Taiwan.
Zhao did not provide details on what those consequences might be. But he said China was “fully prepared for any eventuality.”
Zhao said that China was ready to take strong measures “to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The White House dismissed China's latest comments. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the U.S. broadcaster CNN on Monday it is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan.
Kirby added that the U.S. should not be "intimidated” by the Chinese statements. “This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we're going to do whatever we can to support her."
Pelosi is a longtime critic of China’s human rights record. She expressed a desire to visit Taiwan earlier this year. The last U.S. House speaker to visit Taiwan was Republican Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Pelosi’s trip to Asia comes during a period of increased tension between China and the U.S. and its allies. Mainland forces have increased their military activities around Taiwan in recent years to pressure Taiwan to accept its sovereignty claims.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
stable – adj. not likely to change or end suddenly
perish – v. to die
consequence – n. the result of an action or situation
sovereignty – n. the power of a country to control its own government
integrity – n. honesty and the ability to do or know what is morally right
intimidate – v. to intentionally frighten, especially with threats
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