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Pelosi starts Asia trip in Singapore with no mention of Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was set to hold meetings in Singapore on Monday as part of a swing through Asia, as questions swirled around whether she would defy Chinese warnings with a stop in Taiwan.

Pelosi and other members of a US congressional delegation were set to meet Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other high-level officials, according to a spokesman for the Southeast Asian nation’s Foreign Ministry. She was also planning to attend a cocktail reception with the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

Pelosi left Taiwan out of the itinerary in a statement on Sunday announcing the trip, which will also include stops in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. The public schedule also didn’t include Indonesia, which is set to host a Group of 20 leaders summit in November. Bloomberg had reported last week that Pelosi would make a stop in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Yet speculation is still rife that Pelosi would visit Taiwan at some point this week, risking a heavy-handed response from China, which regards the self-governing island as its territory. China has warned of unspecified consequences if Pelosi visits, including a Defense Ministry statement that implied President Xi Jinping’s government might use military force.

Xi is just months away from a once-in-five-year Communist Party leadership reshuffle where he’s expected to secure a third term in office. China held live-fire military drills over the weekend off the coast of Fujian province, which is directly opposite Taiwan.

Pelosi would potentially be the most-senior US official to visit Taiwan since House Speaker Newt Gingrich traveled to the island in 1997. Her possible trip would be considered more of an affront to China because she’s a member of the same party as President Joe Biden, even though he’s expressed concern about the trip.

Pelosi is accompanied by five fellow House Democrats, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks of New York.

Others are Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano of California; Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair Suzan DelBene of Washington; Intelligence Committee member Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois; and Armed Services Committee member Andy Kim of New Jersey. Kim is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

No Republicans are listed as on the trip.

Pelosi said the group “will hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance.”

The delegation refueled in Hawaii where they visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the USS Arizona. — Bloomberg

Dzul

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