FirstFT: China escalates threats over Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan

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China has escalated its threats over Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan this week and conducted naval exercises across the region, just hours before the US House Speaker was expected to arrive in East Asia.

Pelosi’s office announced that a Congressional delegation headed by the Speaker had departed on Sunday for Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. The statement did not confirm if or when Pelosi would follow through with her plans also to visit Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims is an inalienable part of its sovereign territory.

The purpose of the trip, which has further strained fragile China-US ties, is to “reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region”, Pelosi’s office said. The six-member delegation includes the heads of the House foreign affairs and armed services committees.

Last week, during their first video call since March, Chinese president Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Joe Biden that the US was “playing with fire” by not stopping such visits by American delegations, which the Chinese government regards as “interference by external forces” in its internal affairs.

In a Chinese social media post on Saturday, Hu Xijin, an outspoken former state media editor, said “it is OK [for the People’s Liberation Army] to shoot down Pelosi’s plane” if it was escorted to Taiwan by US fighter jets.

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