Taiwanese media announce the visit of Nancy Pelosi, even if the stopover is still not confirmed.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday, the second leg of an Asian tour that risks escalating tensions between China and the states States due to an unconfirmed but increasingly likely visit to Taiwan.
Beijing considers the island as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary, and has repeatedly warned Washington against a visit by the senior official which would be seen as a major provocation.
Ms Pelosi landed at a Malaysian air base on Tuesday morning before meeting with the prime minister and speaker of the lower house of parliament, national news agency Bernama reported.
After Singapore and Malaysia, his itinerary includes stops in South Korea and Japan. The vagueness is knowingly maintained around a possible visit to Taiwan. Several international press titles, however, claim that a visit is well planned, the Financial Times referring to a meeting between Ms. Pelosi and the President of Taiwan on Wednesday.
If the White House embarrassed by the situation, John Kirby, her spokesman, said on Monday that Ms. Pelosi had the right to visit Taiwan.
There is no reason for Beijing to make this visit, which does not depart from long-standing American doctrine, a form of crisis, he added.
The Speaker of the House is traveling on a military plane and although Washington does not fear a direct attack, the risk of a miscalculation is very present.
The United States practices a so-called strategic ambiguity diplomacy with regard to Taiwan, consisting in recognizing only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide decisive support to Taipei, but abstaining to say whether or not they would militarily defend the island in the event of an invasion.
The Taiwanese government for its part refrained from commenting on a visit by Nancy Pelosi. Premier Su Tseng-chang did not confirm the visit Tuesday when asked by reporters, but thanked Pelosi for her support.
Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Timescited unnamed sources that Ms Pelosi would land on the island on Tuesday evening and meet Ms Tsai the following day before departing again in the afternoon.
The 23 million Taiwanese live under the constant threat of an invasion from China, this fear having increased since the rise to power of President Xi Jinping, who made reunification a priority.
Last week, during a phone call with the US President, Mr. Xi called on the United States not to play with fire.
As we see it, such a visit seems very dangerous and very provocative, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said at a press conference. If this visit takes place, it will also weaken the relationship between China and the United States, I am sure that the United States understands this.
To support their message, the military Chinese released a martial tone video on the Internet on Monday showing soldiers shouting that they are ready for combat, fighters taking off, paratroopers jumping from a plane or even a rain of missiles destroying various targets.
On Tuesday, the hypothesis of an imminent visit by the senior American official sent stock markets in Asia plummeting, as investors worried about the risks of escalation with China.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives would be, if her visit is confirmed, the highest American official to visit Taiwan since her predecessor Newt Gingrich in 1997.