Pelosi on Asia tour, no mention of Taiwan

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US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is beginning a tour of four Asian countries, her office says, without mentioning Taiwan amid intense speculation she might visit the self-ruled island claimed by China.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan," her office said in a statement.

It said the visit starting on Sunday would include those countries, but did not specify whether Pelosi might make other stops.

"The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region," it said.

Pelosi was expected to arrive in Singapore on Monday for a two-day visit, broadcaster CNA reported.

China views visits by US officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp in the island.

Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

A visit by Pelosi would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of US support for Taiwan. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit Taiwan in 1997.

President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden on Thursday that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and "those who play with fire will perish by it".

Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan had not changed and Washington strongly opposed unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said on Friday after the call between Xi and Biden that Taiwan would continue to deepen its close security partnership with the United States.

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

As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the South China Sea by Thursday, Chinese military ramped up exercises in the vicinity.

On Saturday, Chinese military held live-firing drills in the waters off Fujian province, about 100 kilometres away from Taiwan, according to local authorities.

The Chinese coast guard will hold an exercise in the South China Sea off Guangzhou province on Monday, according to another notice by the Maritime Safety Administration.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Friday the United States had seen no evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan.

On Wednesday, Biden told reporters he thought the US military believed a Pelosi visit to Taiwan was "not a good idea right now".

Pelosi's Asian tour comes at a politically sensitive time for Chinese and US leaders.

Xi is expected to seek a precedent-breaking third term at a Congress later this year, while in the United States, Biden's Democratic Party will face a hard fight to retain control of the US House of Representatives at November's midterm elections.

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