In the tensions surrounding Taiwan, the chairwoman of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is expected in the democratic island republic on Tuesday, according to information from the parliament in Taipei. It would be the highest-ranking visit by a US politician to Taiwan, which Beijing’s communist leadership sees as part of the People’s Republic of China, in a quarter of a century. With the unannounced visit to Taipei, the top politician would ignore warnings from Beijing, which also threatened possible military countermeasures.

A Taiwanese MP confirmed various press reports to the German Press Agency in Taipei that Pelosi might arrive in Taipei on Tuesday evening local time from Malaysia as part of her trip to Asia. There could be a meeting with President Tsai Ingwen on Wednesday. According to US media reports, however, the travel plan is in motion, while the Pentagon is monitoring all steps taken by the Chinese side and is working “around the clock” to ensure the security of the number three in the USA – after the president and his vice president – as it is was called.

Military responses have been discussed in China’s state media, ranging from China’s air force escorting Pelosi’s plane and maneuvers to even establishing a no-fly zone around Taiwan and missile tests. And indeed, as the Reuters news agency reports, several Chinese warplanes took off on Tuesday morning and flew near the Taiwan Strait, the strait between China and Taiwan. Several warships were also sighted. An official told Reuters that the move was “very provocative”.

China-US relations “are almost at a razor’s edge,” the party-affiliated Global Times wrote on Twitter. “The countermeasures that the high command is planning to deal with Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan must be far more rigorous and comprehensive than can be imagined. China’s warning to the US is not idle talk.”

The White House, however, warned Beijing of an escalation. “There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing US policy into a crisis or conflict,” National Security Council communications director John Kirby said at the White House on Monday. The US would not engage in “saber rattling,” he said. “But at the same time, we will not be intimidated either.”

According to him, the visit changes “nothing” in the United States’ China policy. The US does not maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but regards Beijing as China’s legitimate representative. The Democrat’s visit would be the highest from the United States to Taiwan since the visit of her former Republican predecessor Newt Gingrich in 1997. At that time, shortly before the return of the British crown colony of Hong Kong to China, the Chinese reaction was moderate because Gingrich had previously visited Beijing .

China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden in a telephone call on Thursday before the visit: “Those who play with fire will perish.” From the Chinese leadership’s point of view, Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic, although it is was governed independently even before it was founded in 1949. The island, which has a population of 23 million, has long considered itself independent. Referring to its “One China Doctrine,” Beijing firmly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei. Xi Jinping also openly threatens conquest for “unification”.

The US top politician will probably also meet with the vice president of the parliament, Tsai Chi-chang, and members of the legislative council in Taipei, the Taiwanese parliamentarian reported to the dpa. Parliament leader You Shyi-kun was prevented because he was in quarantine after a trip abroad.

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