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The US is trying to dampen China’s anger at Pelosi’s possible trip to Taiwan

#dampen #Chinas #anger #Pelosis #trip #Taiwan

President Joe Biden’s administration tried to defuse heated Chinese warnings about a possible trip to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday, as Beijing announced live fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait.

Pelosi is reportedly about to embark on a trip to Asia that would also include Taiwan – although she specifically declined to confirm on Friday that she would be visiting the self-governing island, citing travel security considerations.

China views any such stop by the speaker as a provocation, disrupting the tense status quo under which Washington formally recognizes China’s claim to sovereignty over the island – while supporting the democratic Taiwanese government.

“We have many differences when it comes to Taiwan, but for the past 40+ years we have managed those differences and done so in a way that has maintained peace and stability and allowed the people of Taiwan to thrive,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“As part of our shared responsibility, it would be important to continue to manage this in a prudent manner that does not create the prospect of conflict and to maintain open lines of communication on this issue.”

The temperature in Beijing has risen steadily amid the prospect of a Pelosi trip.

A day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Biden in a long phone call that the United States should not “play with fire” over Taiwan, the communist country’s state-run media on Saturday announced drills in the region.

“Live ammunition will be fired… between 08:00 and 21:00 (0000-1300 GMT) and all entry (into these waters) will be prohibited,” a government statement said.

The statement made no mention of Pelosi. Also, the site of the exercise is just off the coast of mainland China, rather than at sea in the straits closer to Taiwan.

However, there seems to be little doubt about the message.

While US officials often make discreet visits to the island to demonstrate their support for its democratic, self-governing government, Pelosi is second only to the US presidency and one of the most powerful politicians in the country.

Pelosi, who would travel on U.S. military planes during her Asia trip, told reporters Friday that she planned the trip because of the Biden administration’s “heavy emphasis” on the Asia-Pacific region.

But she continued to refuse to confirm or deny plans for a stopover in Taiwan. “I never talk about my travels because some of you know it’s a safety issue,” she said.

– ‘shoot them down’ –

What China might actually do remains unclear.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said, “A visit by Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan would challenge China’s red line, and any challenge to our red line will undoubtedly be met with resolute countermeasures.”

In his comments to Biden, reported by Chinese state media, Xi made an equally heated but vague statement that “those who play with fire will eventually be burned.”

The area where China’s maneuvers are scheduled to take place on Saturday is on Pingtan Island, which lies in the Taiwan Strait but is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Taiwan proper coast.

However, a commentator for the state-run Global Times newspaper urged Pelosi’s plane to be intercepted.

“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane to Taiwan, that’s an invasion. The PLA has the right to forcibly evict Pelosi’s aircraft and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and executing tactical obstacles. ‘ wrote Hu Xijin.

John Kirby, spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council, downplayed what he called “belligerent rhetoric.”

“We haven’t seen any physical, tangible signs of anything undesirable regarding Taiwan,” he said.

Kirby stressed that there was no change in US policy to recognize Beijing’s legal sovereignty over Taiwan, also saying that “there was no need” for China to respond so harshly.

While Pelosi is a close political ally of fellow Democrat Biden, her diplomatic foray has put the president in a difficult position as he seeks to manage an increasingly vulnerable relationship with China.

Despite the tensions, however, Biden and Xi agreed in their call on Thursday to hold a first in-person summit at a date to be determined.

“The President believes that maintaining open lines of communication is really important,” Kirby said.

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#dampen #Chinas #anger #Pelosis #trip #Taiwan

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