Pelosi’s Taiwan travel plan apparently confirmed by US lawmakers | Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi has invited top lawmakers to join her on a trip to Taiwanaccording to a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, providing the first apparent confirmation of the widely speculated visit.

The potential visit of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to Taiwan is at the center of growing tensions involving the island, China and the United States, which analysts say is at its most dangerous point in decades.

There are also concerns about military activity in the region, with reports of a US strike group crossing the South China Sea and a Chinese armed drone flying east of Taiwan as the island launched its annual defense drills.

Texas Republican and senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Michael McCaul and Democrat Anna Eshoo, who is described by NBC as a close ally of Pelosi, told NBC on Wednesday that they had been invited to Taiwan. by Pelosi. The two declined due to a scheduling conflict.

The recorded comments from McCaul and Eshoo are the first apparent confirmation of the planned trip since it was reported last week by the Financial Times. There has been no formal confirmation from the speaker or the White House, and Taipei will not comment until there is.

Supporters of the trip say it would be a strong show of support for Taiwan, which Beijing says is a breakaway Chinese province that needs to be reunited, by force if necessary. However, some have expressed concern that the timing – believed to be next month – comes at a particularly sensitive moment in Chinese domestic politics, which could prompt a more aggressive response from Chinese President Xi. Jinping.

“Any member who wants to go should do so. It shows political deterrence towards President Xi,” McCaul told NBC. “But [Pelosi] should also pay attention to the military if this will backfire and make matters worse.

Beijing has made strong objections to a visit by Pelosi, who would be the most senior US government official since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited in 1997. The officials warned of the “consequences “if the visit continued, with some speculation. there could be military activity which could escalate or cause an accident.

In recent years, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has sent an increasing number of warplanes to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the midst of a proliferation of “grey zone” activities designed to test Taiwan’s responsiveness and drain its resources.

On Monday, Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that a Chinese armed reconnaissance drone had flown near Taiwan on a solo mission for the first time. It followed the PLA’s TB-001 drone through the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea to the Pacific near Taiwan. The following day, the Taiwanese president boarded a warship in the region to inspect defense drills, prompting some analysts to suggest the drone flight was a warning. Taiwan’s military exercises this week are scheduled annually and are not specifically related to current events.

It was unclear where the drone’s journey ended, with some news outlets reporting that it circled the island. The Guardian did not confirm the information.

Here's the tracking map provided by Japan MOD of the PLA drone on Monday. There's some reports around that it circled the island, but did it? Was it still out there when Tsai boarded warship off Yilan?

— Helen Davidson (@heldavidson) July 28, 2022


Here is the tracking map provided by Japan MOD of the PLA drone on Monday. There are reports that say he circumnavigated the island, but did he? Was he still there when Tsai boarded a warship off Yilan?

— Helen Davidson (@heldavidson) July 28, 2022

The Taiwanese ministry did not report the detection, but did report other PLA aircraft sorties in the southwest ADIZ that day. Chinese state media seized on Taiwan’s silence, accusing it of failing to detect the drone, demonstrating “huge flaws in their air defense systems”.

Tensions over a Pelosi visit and increased activity have raised fears the situation could escalate, but some analysts have warned of links between the military moves. “For Taiwan, China’s military threats are still there,” said Fang-yu Chen, a political science researcher at Soochow University. “I’m not saying they’re not a threat. I mean, the threats are so frequent that we don’t have to over-interpret them.

Wednesday, US officials said that if Pelosi went to Taiwan, the US Army would increase the movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific. On Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported that a US strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, left Singapore – where it was making a port call – heading for the South China Sea. He had previously been deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The reason for his current trip was unclear, and the US representative office in Taipei declined to comment.

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