U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi poses with members of the U.S. Marine Detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore on Monday. Photo courtesy House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Twitter
Aug. 1 (BP) — Nancy Pelosi began her official visit in Asia on Monday, meeting with leaders in Singapore amid repeated warnings from China that she’d better not make Taiwan part of the multi-day trip.
Pelosi’s series of high-level meetings planned throughout Asia this week is intended “to reaffirm America’s strong and “unshakable commitment to our allies and friends in the region,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
Both sides came away from the talks with an agreement to strengthen cooperation in the region, with the United States providing more economic support under the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Pelosi and Lee also talked about climate change and the war in Ukraine, but China’s brewing tensions over Taiwan appeared to loom heavily over the discussions.
Pelosi also met with the U.S. Marine Detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore on Monday.
“It was our honor to bring the gratitude of the Congress to our patriots in uniform selflessly serving our nation overseas,” she wrote in a tweet.
China’s foreign ministry again warned on Monday against Pelosi making a visit to Taiwan, with spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying “there will be serious consequences if she insists on making the visit.”
Beijing repeated the warning last week, but so far there is no mention of Taiwan on Pelosi’s official itinerary. China views the island as a breakaway province and has vowed to retake it by force, if necessary.
Pelosi has been historically critical of Beijing for its record on human rights.
The house speaker postponed a visit to the small island country in April after she contracted COVID-19. Word of another intended visit was said to have angered Chinese President Xi Jinping, who called the White House last week and warned President Joe Biden to stop meddling in the region.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Xi said during the call.
Taiwan splintered from China in 1949 after civil war ushered in a new era of communism, but both nations have since remained at odds over the rights to its national leadership.
The United States maintains diplomatic relations with the island and continues to provide it with weapons and other military infrastructure.
For decades, military drills by both countries have kept tensions dangerously hot in the region, and now the diplomatic standoff involving Pelosi is highlighting increasing concerns of a possible military conflict.
Later Monday, Pelosi was expected to appear at a private reception at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, but officials were tight-lipped on details.
Pelosi’s itinerary this week also includes stops in Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, where former prime minister and a longtime U.S. ally Shinzo Abe was assassinated on July 8.
Pelosi’s stop in Malaysia was expected on Tuesday, but officials wouldn’t provide specifics on her arrival in South Korea or Japan.