FirstFT: China escalates threats over Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan
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.
Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Do you have feedback on today’s newsletter? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Emily
Five more stories in the news
1. West slows efforts to restrict Russian oil trading European governments have eased back on efforts to curb trade in Russian oil, delaying a plan to shut Moscow out of the vital Lloyd’s of London maritime insurance market and allowing some international shipments amid fears of rising crude prices and tighter global energy supplies.
More from the war in Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged residents of the country’s easternmost Donetsk region to leave the province as Russia continues its offensive to conquer the area.
2. Pakistani officials urge release of probe into donations to Imran Khan’s party Pakistani politicians called for election authorities to release an investigation into former prime minister Imran Khan’s party over the weekend after the Financial Times reported that it allegedly received prohibited donations from foreign citizens and companies.
3. China’s ‘dim sum’ bond sales surge Sales of international renminbi bonds have surged this year as the country’s fixed income investors, starved of decent returns at home, take advantage of new market access to snap up higher-yielding Chinese currency debt offshore. The volume of dim sum bond offerings — renminbi-denominated debt sold in Hong Kong — has risen 145 per cent from a year ago to Rmb126.8bn ($19.3bn).
4. Japan’s unvaccinated youth drive record Covid infections The spread of the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant has led to a record number of daily cases of Covid in Tokyo and cities across Japan, surpassing 230,000 for the first time last week. People below the age of 30 together accounted for about half of all new cases.
5. Jack Ma plans to give up control of Ant Group The Chinese billionaire is planning to give up control of the financial technology group he co-founded, further delaying plans for an initial public offering. Ant’s IPO suspension in November 2020 set off a broad regulatory crackdown on Chinese tech groups, including billions in fines for Ant’s sister company Alibaba.
The day ahead
American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore meets with Pelosi The group has said it will be holding an in-person event with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this afternoon.
China Army Day Today marks the 95th anniversary of founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. President Xi Jinping yesterday attended an anniversary reception held by the Ministry of National Defense
S&P Global manufacturing PMI data Purchasing managers’ index figures for the eurozone, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US are set to be released.
What else we’re reading
Singapore accelerates pace of executions Singapore’s dogged commitment to capital punishment has highlighted the regressive policies in one of the world’s most liberal economies, critics said. The affluent city-state has drawn wealthy expatriates, but its treatment of foreigners convicted of trafficking even small amounts of drugs exposes a darker side of Singapore, activists said.
The Olympic pain barrier beckons again for Japan The city of Sapporo wants to host the 2030 Winter Games despite hard lessons from last year’s sporting festival. Local officials claim they have solid public support, but they have neatly avoided the kind of vote that can risk finding a majority against hosting the Games, writes Leo Lewis.
The nightmare that is today’s air travel Air travel is the only form of transport to have gone backwards over the past 20 years, writes Pilita Clark. Trains now go faster. Buses pollute less. Cars are smarter and electric. So are bicycles, ferries and lorries. Flying, on the other hand, is considerably more horrible than it used to be.
‘It’s chaos there now’ Last week the low-profile Kuwait Investment Authority was dragged into the spotlight after sacking the head of its London investment arm. FT reporters get inside one of the most powerful and respected sovereign wealth funds that has become riven by internal conflict.
Disney after ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Since it was founded, the entertainment giant has catered to the traditional nuclear family, but in the past 30 years it has also become a mecca for LGBT+ people. Disney is contending with arguably the worst publicity crisis in its history over executives’ bungled response to a Florida bill preventing “sexual orientation or gender identity” discussions in schools.
As the threat of an insect apocalypse looms, a new wave of apps and AI wizardry is helping gardeners encourage bees, butterflies and more. Check out these high-tech ways to welcome insects into your garden.