Pelosi visits Taiwan in defiance of Chinese warnings

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has arrived in Taiwan on a visit that has enraged China which claims the self-governing island as its own territory.

Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei late on Tuesday risked triggering a major crisis between China and the US, which does not officially recognise Taiwan as an independent state, but was still required by US law to provide its government with the means to defend itself.

China had threatened “serious consequences” if Pelosi – the highest ranking US official to travel to Taiwan in 25 years – went ahead with her visit.

“The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

On Tuesday morning, Chinese warships and aircraft repeatedly edged into the median line of the Taiwan Strait, according to reports.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was beginning a tour of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, her office said – with no mention of a possible visit to Taiwan, BBC said.

There has been intense speculation that she may visit the self-ruled island, it said.

Taiwan was claimed by China – which has warned of “serious consequences” if she goes there, according to BBC.

No high-ranking US elected official has visited Taiwan in 25 years.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, tweeted that the six-person Congressional delegation tour would seek to “reaffirm America’s unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region”.

Her office said the tour was to the “Indo-Pacific region” – “including” visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

The US has formal diplomatic ties with China, and not Taiwan, BBC has reported.

Pelosi has long been a vocal critic of the Chinese leadership, denouncing its human rights record. She has met pro-democracy dissidents and visited Tiananmen Square to commemorate victims of the 1989 massacre. –Aljazeera/BBC

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