US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday in a show of support for Taipei amid concerns over cross-strait relations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, media reports said yesterday.
Should Pelosi’s rumored trip go ahead, she would be the first sitting House speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, when Republican Newt Gingrich met with then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) would not confirm the visit, saying only that the government had always extended an invitation to US friends to visit.
“We will make details of any such trip public when we are able to do so,” Ou said.
Pelosi’s office also declined to say whether she was traveling to Taipei when contacted by Bloomberg News, citing longstanding security protocols.
Japanese media reports said that Pelosi is scheduled to arrive in Japan later this week to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, as the two nations seek to enhance coordination of their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pelosi was originally set to visit South Korea afterward, but decided to visit Taipei on Sunday instead, Fuji News Network said.
Sources told the network that the Taiwan trip was designed as a display of US support amid fears that China might try to emulate Moscow and launch an invasion across the Taiwan Strait.
Pelosi has repeatedly shown her support for Taiwan as speaker, a post she has served in since 2019, and from 2007 to 2011.
In late January, Pelosi spoke with Vice President William Lai (賴清德) via video link, assuring him that Taiwan enjoyed bipartisan support in the US Congress.
Beijing yesterday lodged a protest with Washington over reports of Pelosi’s planned visit.
“If she does visit, China will take strong measures and the consequences will be borne by the US,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) told a regular briefing in Beijing, without providing details.
Former Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin (胡錫進) wrote in an opinion piece that such a trip would represent the “most serious provocation by Washington” over Taiwan since Lee visited the US in 1996.
Hu deemed Gingrich’s visit less serious as he belonged to a different political party than then-US president Bill Clinton, although party affiliation is irrevelant to a speaker’s seniority in US politics.
“While the crisis in Ukraine is ongoing, the US is deliberately taking the offensive toward China,” Hu wrote. “China cannot back down this time.”
He called on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to close down Taiwanese airspace on Sunday by buzzing the nation with aircraft, including from the “direction of Pelosi’s plane.”
Also yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that a Swedish parliamentary delegation is to visit Taiwan next week.
The 12-member delegation, which is to visit from Sunday to Thursday next week, would be jointly led by Boriana Aberg, head of the Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian amity association, and Charlie Weimers, a member of the European Parliament, Ou said.
The delegation would also include Kerstin Lundgren, deputy speaker of the Swedish Parliament, and Swedish parliamentarians Bjorn Soder, Lars Adaktusson, Markus Wiechel, Asa Coenraads, Ann-Sofie Alm, Lars Puss and Alexander Christiansson, Ou said.
While in Taipei, the delegation is to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and other senior government officials.
It is also to hold a seminar with a local defense security think tank, and meet Swedish business and student representatives, as well as other expatriates in Taiwan, Ou said.
The ministry welcomes the upcoming trip and believes the visit will further enhance Taiwan-Sweden cooperation and exchanges, Ou added.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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