This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, tours the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 2, 2022. (MALAYSIA'S DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION VIA AP)
All potential diplomatic and economic gains from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ongoing Asia tour could be wiped out if Pelosi went ahead with plans to visit Taiwan, analysts said.
After a two-day visit in Singapore, Pelosi arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 2 to meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit “will likely be used in this trade-dependent region to strengthen trade ties” with the US, according to Khor Yu Leng, regional economist at Singapore-based consultancy Segi Enam Advisors
Pelosi, who is leading a US Congressional delegation, will later travel to the Republic of Korea and Japan. Taiwan was not on her official itinerary, but international media quoted unidentified Taiwan and US officials as saying she might visit the island.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his official Facebook account that the city-state values the US Congress’ “strong support for our bilateral partnership with the US, and for a sustained US presence in the region”.
ALSO READ: Pelosi visit won't be tolerated
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Lee and the US Congressional delegation exchanged views on key international and regional developments, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, cross-Straits relations, and climate change. Lee also highlighted the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security. Singapore President Halimah Yacob and the US Congressional delegation discussed the close educational and people-to-people ties between the two countries.
This handout picture taken and released by Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information on Aug 1, 2022, shows Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) greeting US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore during a visit to the Asia-Pacific region. (HANDOUT / SINGAPORE'S MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION / AFP)
Malaysian Speaker Azhar said his meeting with Pelosi did not include any discussion about her potential trip to Taiwan, according to local media reports. At time of going to press, there had been no official statement yet from Malaysia.
Pelosi’s visit “will likely be used in this trade-dependent region to strengthen trade ties” with the US, according to Khor Yu Leng, regional economist at Singapore-based consultancy Segi Enam Advisors. Khor said this will also be an opportunity for the US to expand relations with Asia, and vice versa, as the past two years have shown how the global supply chain can easily be disrupted by a pandemic.
Khor expects Asian leaders will likewise welcome visits by Chinese dignitaries.
Khor said Asian countries prefer to keep geopolitical relations with the world’s two biggest economies, US and China, balanced. Alluding to reports of Pelosi’s potential Taiwan visit, Khor said she is hoping that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s earlier conversation with US President Joe Biden can help “maintain cordial trading relations and improve US-China relations”.
This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information shows US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second left, meeting with Malaysia Parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, right, at the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Aug 2, 2022. (MALAYSIA'S DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION VIA AP)
Xi said in his phone conversation with Biden last week that it is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people to resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Pelosi’s trip aims “to drum up Democrats’ chances in the US mid-term elections”
James Chin, professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania, said any issue that was discussed in Pelosi’s Asian trip “has been overshadowed by (reports about her potential trip to) Taiwan”.
“If she doesn’t go to Taiwan, one, that will be a good thing, because it means there’s less tension,” Chin said. But if Pelosi did indeed proceed to Taiwan, Chin said that will create more problems for the US which is now focusing all its diplomatic efforts on resolving the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It also would create “further unnecessary tensions” between the US and China.
Chin said Pelosi’s trip may also be a way for her and the Democratic Party to do “something high-profile” ahead of the Nov 8 Congressional US mid-term elections.
Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Pelosi’s trip aims “to drum up Democrats’ chances in the US mid-term elections”.
Oh also alluded to Xi and Biden’s conversation, noting that the US Congress’ and US administration’s “priorities do not necessarily tally with one another”.
China warned on Aug 1 that its military will “not sit idly by” should Pelosi visit Taiwan. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press briefing that “the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality”.
HONG KONG NEWS