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Pelosi arrives in Malaysia and tensions rise over visit to Taiwan

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday for the second leg of her Asia trip , which has been marred by an expected visit to Taiwan that is set to heighten tensions with Beijing .

The plane carrying Pelosi and her delegation landed at an air force base amid heavy security, state news agency Bernama reported. She was received in Parliament by her counterpart, Azhar Azizan Harun, and participated in a working lunch with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, it added.

Although there have been no official announcements, local Taiwanese media reported that Pelosi will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday night, making her the highest-ranking elected official to visit the island in more than 25 years. Taiwan’s three major newspapers — United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times — quoted unnamed sources as saying that she will fly to the capital and spend the night after her visit to Malaysia.

China, which regards self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, has warned of repercussions, saying its military “will never sit idly by” if Pelosi goes ahead with the visit. Threats of retaliation from Beijing have fueled concern. by a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two territories, which could affect markets around the world and supply chains.

The White House on Monday criticized Beijing’s rhetoric, saying Washington has no interest in escalating tensions with Beijing and “will not take the bait or display force.”

John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the decision to visit the island was ultimately Pelosi’s, noting that members of Congress have routinely visited Taiwan over the years.

According to the spokesman, government officials are concerned that Beijing may use the visit as an excuse to take provocative measures, including military action such as firing missiles into the strait or around the island, incursions into Taiwanese airspace, and carrying out of large-scale naval exercises in the strait.

“Simply put, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a possible visit consistent with US policy into some kind of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said. .

For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged China to “act responsibly” in the event that Pelosi goes to the island.

“If the speaker of the House decides to visit and China tries to create some kind of crisis or raise tensions in some other way, that would be entirely the responsibility of Beijing,” she told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York. We hope that, in the event that they decide to visit, they will act responsibly and not undertake any escalation in the future.”

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after the communists’ victory in a civil war on the mainland. The United States maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taipei while recognizing Beijing as the government of China.

Pelosi kicked off her Asia tour in Singapore on Monday, but her reported visit to Taiwan has caused nervousness throughout the region. she is scheduled to meet with his South Korean counterpart Kim Jin Pyo in Seoul on Thursday to discuss security in the Indo-Pacific region, economic cooperation and the climate crisis, according to Kim’s office. she will also visit Japan, although it is not clear when she will arrive.

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