Singapore’s waiting prime minister warned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan had set US-China relations on a “deeply worrisome” trajectory and warned the two nations would be “sleepwalking into a conflict” if neither side takes action to de-escalate.
“Tensions have soared after the visit,” Lawrence Wong said in an interview with Bloomberg. “And that’s the risk that can happen, that we start to see a series of decisions made by both countries that will lead us into more dangerous territory.”
Wong is the current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He expressed concern about potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea, where China has stepped up its military exercises.
He warned that “accidents” could happen with both sides displaying power in the region, citing a 2001 incident in which a US spy plane collided with a Chinese plane and was forced to make an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan. China released the crew after the US apologized.
Pelosi and a congressional delegation of Democrats visited Taiwan two weeks ago, despite fervent warnings from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which viewed the visit as US meddling in their territory. Beijing threatened retaliation and warned of the visit: “Whoever plays with fire will be burned.”
Lawrence Wong is the current Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of the Treasury. He expressed concern about potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea, where China has stepped up its military exercises.
Pelosi is pictured above during her visit to Taiwan, walking next to Legislative Yuan Vice President Tsai Chi-chang
Pelosi and members of her congressional delegation visit Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong. from Singapore
Pelosi had visited Singapore for her stop in Taiwan on an Asian tour.
The speaker was the highest-ranking US government official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and China considered her visit an insult by the Biden administration. President Biden’s White House did not support the trip.
“As they say, no one wants to go to war on purpose, but we are sleepwalking into conflict,” Wong said. “And that’s the biggest problem and danger.”
Since Pelosi and her crew have returned, a second delegation of congressmen led by Senator Ed Markey, D-Conn., has traveled to Taiwan.
In addition to Markey in the small delegation are Democratic Representatives Alan Lowenthal and John Garamendi of California and Don Beyer of Virginia along with Republican Representative to American Samoa Aumua Amata.
In Taipei, the chairman of the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, Lo, Chih-Cheng, met with US lawmakers and stated: “Their visit at this time is of great importance as the Chinese military exercise (intended ) is to prevent US congressmen from visiting Taiwan.”
“Their visit this time proves that China cannot stop politicians from any country from visiting Taiwan, and it also conveys an important message that the American people stand behind the Taiwanese people,” Lo said.
China has said it wants to use peaceful means to regain control of Taiwan, but all options are “on the table.”
Since then, Beijing has sent missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan.
A second congressional delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey, D-Conn., is now in Taiwan
Markey and members of the second congressional delegation to Taiwan meet with President Tsai Ing-Wen
Last week, Taiwanese officials claimed that China sent 17 fighter jets across the median line in the Taiwan Strait. Both sides have understood for decades that crossing the median line would mean serious escalation. Taiwan also launched its own anti-invasion exercises last week.
Meanwhile, it was reported Tuesday that the US had successfully tested a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, which had been delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s display of power near Taiwan earlier this month.
The test demonstrated “the readiness of the US nuclear forces and instills confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” Air Force Global Strike Command said after the launch early Tuesday.
The Minuteman III’s return vehicle traveled 4,200 miles from Vandenberg Space Force Base near Santa Barbara, California to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, officials confirmed.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles can have a range of up to 9,300 miles – and are designed primarily for the delivery of nuclear weapons. First deployed to the US in 1959, they have become a pivotal weapon in the US nuclear arsenal.
Last week, Pelosi defended her trip under criticism.
“We will not allow China to isolate Taiwan,” Pelosi said at a news conference, flanked by members of the congressional delegation she brought with her. “They won’t stop us from going to Taiwan… That was our goal, to salute this thriving democracy.”
“They say we’re trying to disrupt – no, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979… set the terms of our relationship.”
“There’s no deviation from that,” she added.
With the Taiwan Relations Act, US policy began of strategic ambiguity and created an unofficial diplomatic and economic route between the US and Taiwan. It recognized China’s ‘One China principle’, but neither supported nor criticized it. The US has not publicly said whether it would come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded, but has urged the PRC not to do so.
Pelosi also told reporters she does not “remember” the military told her not to go to Taiwan. Before the trip, Biden told reporters, “The military doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”