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Pelosi opens Asia trip in Singapore, reportedly planning Taiwan visit

By A.L. Lee
Pelosi opens Asia trip in Singapore, reportedly planning Taiwan visit
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 of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Twitter

Aug. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began her official visit to Asia on Monday with her arrival in Singapore. She is reportedly planning to visit Taiwan on Tuesday amid repeated warnings from China to stay away.

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.

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After departing Sunday from Hawaii, Pelosi arrived in Singapore and met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Halimah Yacob and other Cabinet members.

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.

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China's foreign ministry again warned on Monday against Pelosi going to Taiwan, with spokesman Zhao Lijian saying, "There will be serious consequences if she insists on making the visit."

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Beijing repeated the warning last week and there is no official mention of Taiwan on Pelosi's official itinerary. However, several media outlets, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, reported she would visit Taiwan on Tuesday night. The reports cited U.S. and Taiwanese officials.

China views the island as a breakaway province and has vowed to retake it by force, if necessary.

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China again cautioned Pelosi about visiting Taiwan on Monday, saying that it's military won't "sit idly by" if she travels there.

Pelosi's visit would be the first on the island by a U.S. House Speaker in 25 years.

Earlier Monday in Singapore, Pelosi and Lee spoke about climate change and the war in Ukraine, but China's brewing tensions over Taiwan appeared to loom heavily over the discussions.

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Pelosi also met with the U.S. Marine Detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.

"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.

Pelosi postponed a previous visit to Taiwan in April after she contracted COVID-19. Word of another intended visit angered Chinese President Xi Jinping, who called the White House last week and warned President Joe Biden to stop meddling in the region.

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"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 high 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.

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