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A man uses a magnifying glass to read a newspaper headline reporting on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Asia visit, at a stand in Beijing, Sunday, July 31, 2022.
BEIJNG — The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, confirmed Sunday she will visit four Asian countries this week but made no mention of a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing, which claims the island democracy as its own territory. Pelosi said in a statement she is leading a congressional delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan to discuss trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and “democratic governance.” Pelosi has yet to confirm news reports that she might visit Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in Beijing’s dealings with the island in a phone call Thursday with his American counterpart, Joe Biden. Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support. Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the U.S. government, would be the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. The Biden administration didn’t explicitly urge Pelosi to avoid Taiwan but tried to assure Beijing there was no reason to “come to blows” and that if such a visit occurred, it would signal no change in U.S. policy.
“Under the strong leadership of President Biden, America is firmly committed to smart, strategic engagement in the region, understanding that a free and flourishing Indo-Pacific is crucial to prosperity in our nation and around the globe,” Pelosi’s statement said. Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment. The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but maintains informal relations with the island. Washington is obligated by federal law to see that Taiwan has the means to defend itself. Washington’s “One China policy” says it takes no position on th …