Washington Urges Calm Over Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit But Tensions Cause Asian Markets To Slide



Chinese social media users reacted with anger while markets in the region slumped amid growing tensions ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan, which is expected to take place Tuesday as Washington urges China to not blow the visit out of proportion and engage in any form of military retaliation.

Key Facts

Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Pelosi’s “potential visit” does nothing to change U.S. policy on Taiwan and added that there was no reason for China to use the visit as a pretext to carry out military activity across the Taiwan Strait.

While the exact timing of Pelosi’s purported visit remains shrouded, Taiwan’s United Daily News reported her plane is expected to land at Taipei’s Songshan Airport on Tuesday night local time.

Pelosi and her accompanying Congressional delegation are expected to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and visit the country’s parliament on Wednesday, according to United Daily News.

Taiwanese officials are already preparing for the visit with the country’s national police force deploying between 350-400 officers for the U.S. delegation’s protection, the Taiwanese media report added.

The house speaker made a brief visit to Malaysia on Tuesday morning.

According to live tracking data published by FlightRadar24, the U.S. Air Force plane carrying Pelosi left Kuala Lumpur at around 3.45 p.m. local time and was flying over Indonesia as of late afternoon.

News Peg

Despite Washington’s calls for calm, markets in the region appeared jittery due to the rising tensions. In China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s benchmark Composite Index was down 2.26% while the blue-chip focussed CSI 300 Index was down 1.95% when markets closed. Taiwanese stock markets have also been rattled by the tension with the TSEC 50 Index dropping 1.56%.


Pelosi’s planned visit has stoked some anger on Chinese social media. According to the website What’s On Weibo, which tracks Chinese social media platforms, some users are calling Pelosi’s visit an act of war while another popular blogger urged the Chinese military to shoot down any U.S. planes entering Taiwanese airspace. This sentiment echoes a now deleted tweet shared by controversial Chinese journalist Hu Xijin who said any U.S. aircraft entering Taiwanese airspace would be viewed as an invasion and therefore be shot down.

Key Background

In a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last week, President Joe Biden reiterated that Washington’s stance on Taiwan remained unchanged but it was opposed to any unilateral efforts by Beijing to change the status quo. Following the call, Beijing issued its own readout that warned against meddling in Taiwan—which China considers as a part of its territory—and said “those who play with fire will perish by it.” On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned China’s military will not “sit idly by” if Pelosi visits Taiwan and said it would lead to “very serious developments and consequences.” Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan would be the most high-profile visit to the island by a U.S. official since a 1997 tour by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Despite U.S. assurances, Chinese officials see the visit as highly inflammatory meddling in what Beijing considers its own internal affairs. While the exact nature of China’s potential actions remain unclear, the White House has expressed concern that Beijing may fire missiles into the Taiwan Strait and once again send fighter jets to breach Taiwan’s air defense zones.

Big Number

300,000. That is the number of users who are tracking Pelosi’s aircraft as it flies over Southeast Asia according to FlightRadar24, making it the most tracked flight on the website on Tuesday.

Further Reading

Pelosi Will Reportedly Visit Taiwan Despite China’s Warnings Of Retaliation (Forbes)