The speaker said she’ll visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan with a congressional delegation to “hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights, and democratic governance,” according to a July 31 statement.
Her comments didn’t address a potential stop in Taiwan amid threats issued by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and an apparent mobilization of the regime’s military in the South China Sea. The CCP has long claimed that Taiwan, which has been self-governed since 1949 and never controlled by the regime, is part of its territory.
“Today, our congressional delegation travels to the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region,” Pelosi said.
Earlier this month, amid reports that she would visit the island nation, President Joe Biden briefly told reporters that the U.S. military “thinks it’s not a good idea right now.”
A Chinese regime propagandist with the state-run Global Times deleted a July 30 Twitter post stating that Beijing could shoot down Pelosi’s plane if it’s escorted by the military to Taiwan.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is [an] invasion,” Hu Xijin, a columnist and former editor-in-chief for the CCP-controlled Global Times, wrote on the platform. “The [People’s Liberation Army] has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction.
“If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
A comment by a Chinese People’s Liberation Army unit on Weibo, a heavily censored Twitter-like social media site used by mainland Chinese people, wrote to “prepare for war!” The July 29 comment received millions of “likes.”
After landing in Hawaii on July 31, Pelosi visited Pearl Harbor, the site of the famed Japanese attack that sparked U.S. involvement in World War II, according to the statement. Her delegation received a briefing from U.S. Indo–Pacific Command.
Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), and Andy Kim (D-N.J.) are joining Pelosi on the trip, according to her office.
A visit by Pelosi would be a dramatic, although not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for Taiwan. She would be the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Biden in a lengthy July 28 phone call that Washington should stay away from Taiwan, saying that “those who play with fire will perish by it,” according to a transcript.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said on July 29, after the call between Xi and Biden, that Taiwan would continue to deepen its close security partnership with the United States.
Last week, the U.S. Navy confirmed that the USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group are now in the South China Sea.
“I can confirm USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are now underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore,” Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford told media outlets on July 28. “As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future ship movements; however, I will add that Reagan is continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Reuters contributed to this report.