U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with officials in Singapore on Monday at the start of her Asian tour. The world watches with one big question mark: Will she also make a stop in Taiwan?
Pelosi met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Halimah Yacob, and other Cabinet members. The politicians talked about economic relationships between their nations. They discussed the war in Ukraine. Also on the talking agenda: tense relations between Taiwan and mainland China.
Why the trouble between China and Taiwan?
It’s a long story. Taiwan is a self-governing island democracy. China is a mega world power. The Chinese Communist Party leads its authoritarian government. China claims Taiwan as its own territory. Chinese authorities say they will force Taiwan to become part of China if necessary. And they’re not joking. They have military force to back up their claim.
Where does the United States fit in?
China doesn’t like the idea of the United States interfering in Taiwan. Beijing objects to all official contact between Taipei and Washington and routinely threatens retaliation. Back in 1995, Taiwan’s president visited the United States. China fired missiles into waters near Tawian in response. China’s military capabilities have advanced much further since then.
Would China use force to prevent Pelosi’s plane from landing in Taipei? Experts say it’s unlikely. But China’s response remains unpredictable.
Will she go?
Pelosi has been a staunch critic of China throughout her more than three decades in Congress. She was also a strong supporter of 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, making her a target of criticism from Beijing.
For now, Pelosi’s schedule includes Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. Whether she’ll go to the nation on China’s no-no list remains to be seen.
All the ends of the Earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. — Psalm 22:27
UPDATE: Despite China's objections, Pelosi chose to include Taiwan in her visit. She arrived at the self-governed nation, which China claims governance over, late on Tuesday. Just before her arrival, Pelosi issued a statement saying her visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.” Back at home, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he supported Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan, also calling it a display of support for Taiwan’s democracy. China responded by saying it would begin military maneuvers in the area. The military response is intended as a deterrent to those who would seek independence for Taiwan, Chinese officials say.
(U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore on Monday, August 1, 2022. Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore via AP)