Biden risks infuriating Xi as Pelosi Taiwan visit CONFIRMED – World holds breath

Taiwan is militarily 'capable of defending' itself says Lo Chih-Ching

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Meanwhile Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s defence committee, said the US’s obsession with the island was blinding it to the superpower’s activities elsewhere. US House of Representatives Speaker Ms Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan as part of her tour of Asia, according to a senior Taiwanese government official and a US official.

If reports of her stopover are accurate, Ms Pelosi has decided to press on with her visit despite the concerns of the Biden administration, which fears what China’s reaction to such a high-profile visit would be.

Taiwan, located 100 miles from the mainland, while autonomous and with a democratically elected government, is regarded by Beijing as part of its territory, and has no diplomatic ties with Washington.

Prof Tsang, who is director of London’s China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), told “Beijing will react furiously to a visit, even if ‘unofficial’ since it is not listed on her ‘official itinerary’.

“Some form of military action is possible, perhaps even likely but it will be short of actually harming Pelosi or the plane carrying her.

“Some form of harassment like military deployment that requires the US side to change her travel route or a strong show of force by the PLA can be expected.”

Much would depend on how good Chinese intelligence was in pinpointing the travel route and timing of Ms Pelosi’s plane, Prof Tsang said.

There was little doubt that if she did make it to Taiwan, Taipei would roll out the red carpet, Mr Tsang stressed – even though the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen likely had private misgivings about the timing.

He said: “It will be inconceivable for Tsai not to meet and greet Pelosi.

“She is too senior to be treated with discourtesy so it will not happen. The government in Taiwan would probably have preferred this not to happen now as such a gesture of support for Taiwan is much less valuable than something tangible in strengthening Taiwan’s security.

“But it is politically and diplomatically impossible for the President of Taiwan not to meet and greet Pelosi warmly.

“Taiwan’s defence forces would probably also prefer not to get sucked into a situation that require them to confront the PLA, and would probably prefer to leave her security to the US forces, which will protect her security and safety.”

Mr Ellwood, the Tory MP for Bournemouth East, was concerned about what Ms Pelosi’s high-profile visit said about US foreign policy in general.

He told “America’s obsession with Taiwan works in Beijing’s favour by overshadowing China’s growing soft power dominance through its one belt one road programmes and military expansion in the South China Sea.

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“China clearly seeks to reclaim Taiwan. But it thinks strategically, in decades rather than election cycles – content to delay any conflict today if it’s objective is easier to secure a few years later.We are failing to see the bigger picture.”

Mr Ellwood suggested any visit to Taiwan by Ms Pelosi would be “ill-advised”.

He added: “The US mindset is totally focused on Taiwan – rather than what China is up to elsewhere.

“China will naturally react and protest but it just helps China avoid scrutiny as it exploits other agendas.”

The US official told CNN Defense Department officials were working around the clock to monitor Chinese movements in the region and work out a plan to keep her safe.

On Sunday, Ms Pelosi’s office announced that she was leading a Congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. It made no mention of Taiwan.

On Monday, Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan’s Premier – roughly equivalent to the role of Prime Minister did not directly respond when asked whether Pelosi will visit.

However he added: “We always warmly welcome visits to our country by distinguished foreign guests.”

On Sunday, Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media as saying that Beijing would “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Shen said at a military airshow that the air force has many types of fighter jets capable of circling “the precious island of our motherland”, referring to Taiwan.

China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term later this year during a once-in-five-years congress of the ruling Communist Party.

In the United States, Biden’s Democratic Party faces a hard fight to retain control of the House of Representatives at November’s midterm elections.Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters he thought the US military believed a Pelosi visit to Taiwan was “not a good idea right now”.

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