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Pelosi lands in Malaysia while China rampages across Taiwan

#Pelosi #lands #Malaysia #China #rampages #Taiwan

Pelosi lands in Malaysia while China rampages across Taiwan

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) –

Patrick Lee with Amber Wang in Taipei

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Malaysian state media reported, her second stop on an Asia trip that has sparked anger in Beijing over a possible stop in Taiwan.

Beijing regards Taiwan as its sovereign territory and has indicated through repeated warnings that it would view the visit as a major provocation.

Pelosi landed at a Malaysian air base ahead of meetings with the prime minister and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, state news agency Bernama reported.

After Singapore and Malaysia, her itinerary includes stops in South Korea and Japan – but the prospect of visiting Taiwan has dominated attention.

While President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly opposed to Pelosi stopping in Taiwan, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said she has the right to go where she pleases.

“The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan,” he told reporters.

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit into some sort of crisis, consistent with long-standing US policy.”

Kirby cited information that China was preparing possible military provocations, which could include firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or “large-scale” incursions into Taiwanese airspace.

He said Pelosi traveled on a military plane and while Washington did not fear a direct attack, it “raised the stakes for miscalculation.”

However, Kirby reiterated that US policy towards Taiwan is unchanged.

This means support for its self-governing government, while giving Beijing diplomatic recognition to Taipei and opposing a formal Taiwan declaration of independence or a violent Chinese takeover.

Taiwan’s government has not commented on the prospect of a Pelosi visit.

Premier Su Tseng-chang did not confirm Tuesday’s visit when asked by reporters, but thanked Pelosi for her support.

And Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said Pelosi will land on the island Tuesday night and meet with Tsai the next day before departing in the afternoon.

– More warnings from China –

Taiwan’s 23 million residents have long lived with the possibility of invasion, but the threat has intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a phone call with Biden last week, Xi warned the United States against “playing with fire” on Taiwan.

And on Monday, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Hun, said such a visit would be “very dangerous, very provocative.”

If it comes to that, “China will take decisive and strong measures to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

American officials often make discreet visits to the island to show support, but a Pelosi trip would be better known than any in recent history.

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