Nancy Pelosi begins trip to Asia, US warns China of further tensions

“Our actions are non-threatening and do not break new ground… We will not take the bait and engage in saber-rattling. At the same time, we are not intimidated.”

The comments came after the People’s Liberation Army of China held live-fire drills Monday off Fujian, less than 120 kilometers from the coast of Taiwan. The show of force to mark the 95th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army was also accompanied by the publication of a military speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Chinese Communist Party’s Qiushi magazine.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi JinpingRecognition:AP

“The party commands the gun,” Xi said in the speech released Monday. “We must focus on combat readiness at all times in order to forge a mighty army that will come when called, ready for battle when it comes, and victorious in battle.”

The comments were first made by Xi at a military gathering in 2017, but were only released Monday after China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe addressed the 95th nation celebration – a goal that includes unification with Taiwan.


Recognition:Graphics: Jamie Brown

The Chinese Communist Party views self-governing Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be unified with the mainland. The party has never ruled Taiwan but has set a goal of unifying with Taiwan by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

But China’s rapidly growing military power has raised fears that the timetable could be brought forward to this decade. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in July China could be ready to act as early as 2027.

Pelosi’s visit, the highest-profile visit by a sitting US official in decades, is viewed as a provocation by Beijing as it appears to support the Taiwanese government. In Washington, this is seen by both Democrats and Republicans as a test of US resolve after decades of more covert support for Taipei. US officials were concerned that Pelosi’s plane could be shadowed by Chinese military jets en route to Taiwan, raising the risk of an accidental confrontation or a stronger military response from Beijing.

“Now it’s up to who blinks first,” Chen Qi, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, told China’s state media service Xinhua.

Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy, said China’s rise should be viewed in a historical context.

“It’s very difficult to find in history a great power like China that actually enjoys a long-term peace without resorting to wars with another country,” he said.

Pelosi said in a statement Sunday that her trip with Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Andy Kim of the House Armed Services Committee, along with three other U.S. Congressmen, will focus on “mutual security, Economic Partnership and Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific Region”. The statement made no mention of Taiwan. Pelosi had no media events scheduled in Singapore Monday, where she met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the American Chamber of Commerce.

Pelosi is scheduled to travel to Malaysia on Tuesday before flying to South Korea and Japan near the Taiwan Strait. China’s Navy is also scheduled to hold drills near Hainan in the South China Sea for the remainder of this week.

However, Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers – United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times – quoted unidentified sources as saying that after her visit to Malaysia she would arrive in Taipei and spend the night.

“We knew from the start that she was going to make her own decisions and that Congress was an independent branch of government,” Kirby said.

“But the PRC is aware, based on our four decades of diplomatic relations, that the speaker has the right to visit Taiwan.

“Without going into details, I think you understand that part of our responsibility is to make sure she can travel safely and securely. I can assure you that she will.”

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Joel McCord

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