Pelosi arrives in Malaysia as concerns about a potential trip to Taiwan grow.

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, waves to the media as she tours the parliament building in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, according to this image from Malaysia’s Department of Information. hide caption AP

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, waves to the media as she tours the parliament building in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, according to this image from Malaysia’s Department of Information.

AP Malaysia’s KUALA LUMPUR Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday to begin the second phase of her Asian tour overshadowed by an anticipated arrival in Taiwan, which would heighten tense relations with Beijing, which asserts sovereignty over the self-governing island.

Pelosi and her delegation arrived by jet at an air force installation under heavy protection. She visited the lower house speaker in the House of Representatives before adjourning for lunch with the prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years, Pelosi, will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday night, according to Taiwanese local media, despite the absence of any formal pronouncements. She would fly to Taipei and spend the night there after visiting Malaysia, according to unnamed sources quoted in Taiwan’s three biggest daily newspapers, the United Daily News, Liberty Times, and China Times.

China has threatened consequences, stating that its military will “never sit quietly by” if Pelosi pushes through with the visit. China views Taiwan as a renegade province that should be reclaimed by force, if necessary. Fears of a fresh conflict in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides, and might disrupt global markets and supply lines, have been raised in response to China’s vows of reprisal.

The White House condemned Beijing’s rhetoric on Monday, asserting that the United States “will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling” and that it has no interest in heightening tensions with China.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, emphasized that Pelosi was ultimately in charge of deciding whether to travel to the autonomous island. He mentioned the frequent congressional visits to Taiwan over the years.

According to Kirby, administration officials are worried that Beijing might use the visit as an excuse to engage in provocative retaliation, including military action like firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan, conducting large-scale naval exercises in the strait, or flying sorties into the island’s airspace.

Simply put, Beijing has no motivation to create a crisis or exploit a hypothetical visit that is consistent with long-standing U.S. policy as an excuse to boost its aggressive military operations in or near the Taiwan Strait, Kirby said.

In case Pelosi goes ahead with the visit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also asked China to “act responsibly.”

He told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, “If the speaker does decide to visit, and China attempts to create some sort of crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, that would be entirely on Beijing. In the event that she decides to visit, “We are looking for them to act appropriately and not engage in any more escalation,”

After the Communists won a civil war on the mainland, Taiwan and China divided in 1949. Even though it acknowledges Beijing as the government of China, the United States still has informal contacts and military cooperation with Taiwan.

Beijing interprets official American contacts with Taiwan as encouragement to formally recognize Taiwan’s long-standing de facto independence, a move that American authorities claim they oppose. Since former Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997, Pelosi, head of one of the three branches of the U.S. government, would be the highest-ranking elected American politician to do so.

Pelosi began her Asian tour on Monday in Singapore, but her rumored trip to Taiwan has caused unease in the region.

During his discussions with Pelosi, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong “highlighted the importance of stable U.S.-China relations for regional peace and security,” according to the foreign ministry of the city-state. In Tokyo, Yoshimasa Hayashi, the foreign minister of Japan, echoed this sentiment when he remarked that strong ties between the two hostile nations were “very vital for the international community as well.”

The Philippines urged China and the United States to act in the region “responsibly.” According to Teresita Daza, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, “It is crucial that the United States and China maintain ongoing dialogue to avoid any miscalculation and further escalation of tensions.”

Chinese pressure on Taiwan has been progressively increasing on the diplomatic and military fronts. As a result of President Tsai Ing-refusal wen’s to accept China’s assertion that the island and mainland collectively constitute a single Chinese nation, with the Communist dictatorship in Beijing serving as the only legal government, China severed all ties with Taiwan’s government in 2016.

According to Kim’s office, Pelosi will meet with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo on Thursday in Seoul to discuss security in the Indo-Pacific area, economic collaboration, and the climate problem. Pelosi is also scheduled to travel to Japan, though it is unknown when.

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