Chris Lange, FISM News
Update: Nancy Pelosi’s flight reportedly landed in Taiwan at 10:46 according to flight tracking website, Flightradar24. Flight SPAR19 is known to be a U.S. Air Force plane and is believed to have had the Speaker of the House on board. The flight was diverted around the South China Sea which many saw as further evidence that Pelosi was on the flight due to fears of retribution from China. Flightradar24 reported that its site nearly crashed amidst an overload of people tracking the flight, with over 600,000 tracking SPAR19’s descent into Taiwanese airspace.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, with China increasing military movements along an international border between the two countries.
Taiwan’s three largest news outlets cited multiple unnamed sources who say that Pelosi will arrive in Taipei tonight, according to the Associated Press. If the reports are true, the speaker will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in nearly 25 years.
Without explicitly confirming a visit from the House speaker, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said Tuesday that “any foreign guests and friendly lawmakers” are “very much welcome.”
China, which views the self-governing island as part of its territory, has repeatedly threatened Washington with retaliation if the congressional delegation visits Taiwan.
“The U.S. and Taiwan have colluded to make provocations first, and China has only been compelled to act out of self-defense,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters Tuesday in Beijing.
Hua said China has made it clear to the U.S. “how dangerous it would be if the visit actually happens,” adding that any retaliatory countermeasures undertaken by Beijing would be “justified and necessary” in the face of Washington’s “unscrupulous behavior.”
The United States said on Monday it would not be intimidated by what it called Chinese “saber rattling,” as China had increased air and boat patrols along the median line in what is seen as a sign of provocation.
Most of Pelosi’s planned meetings, including with President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday, a person familiar with her itinerary said. Chinese buildings displayed welcome messages in anticipation of Pelosi’s visit.
— William Gallo (@GalloVOA) August 2, 2022
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the decision to visit Taiwan is ultimately up to Pelosi.
He also warned China against taking any retaliatory action should such a visit occur while at the same time attempting to placate Beijing by reiterating that the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence.
“We have said — and we have repeatedly said — that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side,” Kirby told reporters Monday at a White House press briefing.
“We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence. And we have said that we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” he added.
Kirby said Washington’s actions regarding Taiwan are “not threatening,” pointing out that members of Congress have routinely visited the island in the past. He condemned Beijing’s threatening rhetoric and said the U.S. is not interested in escalating tensions with China but added that Washington “will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling.”
“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called for China to “act responsibly.”
“If the speaker does decide to visit, and China tries to create some kind of a crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, that would be entirely on Beijing,” he told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, the AP reported.
“We are looking for them, in the event she decides to visit, to act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
Washington officials previously said the U.S. military would broaden its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region if Pelosi decides to stop in Taiwan. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was spotted in the Philippine Sea Monday, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity
Pelosi met with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Monday. She is expected to meet with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo in Seoul Thursday for Indo-Pacific security talks and will visit Japan sometime this week, though a specific date has not been named.