China warns of ‘forceful measures’ if U.S. House Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 14, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

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BEIJING, July 19 (Reuters) – China’s government warned on Tuesday it would take “forceful measures” if U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, after the Financial Timessaid she would go to the Chinese-claimed island next month.

Pelosi and her delegation will also visit Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, and spend time in Hawaii at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific command, the London paper added, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it has “not received relevant information” about any visit.

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Asked about the report, Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said, “We do not confirm or deny international travel in advance due to longstanding security protocols.”

The Democratic leader’s visit to Taiwan had been postponed from April, after she tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, China said such a visit would severely affect Chinese-U.S. relations. read more

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said any visit by Pelosi would “seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“If the U.S. side obstinately clings to this course, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

“The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”

Taiwan faces mounting pressure from China, which considers the democratically governed island its own territory. The issue is a constant irritant in ties between Beijing and Washington.

Taiwan, however, has been heartened by continued support offered by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which has repeatedly spoken of its “rock-solid” commitment to the island.

Pelosi, a long-time critic of China, held an online meeting with Taiwanese Vice President William Lai in January as he wrapped up a visit to the United States and Honduras. read more

The White House had expressed concern about the Pelosi trip, the Financial Times said, citing three people familiar with the situation.

There were divisions in the Democratic U.S. administration over whether Pelosi should visit Taiwan, the FT quoted two sources as saying.

Some officials believed it had been easier to justify a visit in April, as that was just after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it added.

China sent fighters across the Taiwan Strait’s median line earlier this month in what the latter described as a provocation. The incident came during a visit to Taipei by Senator Rick Scott, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. read more

The report of Pelosi’s potential August visit came after China asked the United States on Monday to immediately cancel a potential sale of military technical assistance to Taiwan worth an estimated $108 million. read more

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Additional reporting by Anirudh Saligrama and Shivam Patel in Bengaluru, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill, Clarence Fernandez, Michael Perry and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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