The historic visit to Taiwan of the US House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has provoked a furious response from China, and heightened fears of a crisis in the Taiwan strait. In Asia and beyond, the visit has put governments on edge.
South Korea called for dialogue to maintain regional peace. “Our government’s stance is to maintain close communication with relevant parties… on the basis that peace and stability in the region through dialogue and cooperation are important,” an official from the presidential office told reporters.
Pelosi is expected to arrive in Seoul late on Wednesday, though there is little information regarding her schedule; her only confirmed meeting in South Korea so far is with the National Assembly speaker, Kim Jin-pyo, on Thursday.
“We welcome Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Korea,” the official said, adding the presidential office was hoping for “many achievements” at Thursday’s meeting.
President Yoon Suk-yeol will not be meeting with Pelosi as he is currently on holiday, the official added.
Japan’s government expressed concern over China’s planned military activity around Taiwan, with the chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, stating the area hosting the exercises overlaps with Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Tokyo had raised its concerns with Beijing, he said.
Japan has not, however, commented on Pelosi’s visit and reiterated its stance that tensions in the Taiwan strait should be resolved through dialogue.
“The peace and stability of the Taiwan strait is important not only for Japan’s national security but also for the international community, and Japan’s position is that we expect a peaceful solution of the issues surrounding Taiwan through dialogue,” Matsuno said.
Russia, an ally of China, called the visit a “clear provocation, which is in line with the United States’ aggressive policy aimed at comprehensively containing China”.
Beijing “has the right to take measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in relation to the Taiwan issue”, the government said in a statement.
Russia and China have become increasingly close over recent years, with Beijing refusing to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and instead echoing Moscow’s claims that the US and Nato provoked the conflict. Russia’s war in Ukraine has heightened fears of Chinese aggression in Taiwan.
North Korea has criticised what it called US “imprudent interference” in China’s internal affairs, according to Reuters, which cited the state news agency KCNA.
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said they “vehemently denounce” any external force’s interference in the issue of Taiwan and “fully support” China, its major ally and economic lifeline.
The Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese said the country would “continue to work with partners to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan strait”.
He told reporters in Canberra: “We don’t want to see any unilateral change to the status quo.”
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, declined to comment on Pelosi’s visit, but called for “diplomacy and dialogue”. “We have long been a nation that in the face of tensions like these, that we’ll call for dialogue,” Ardern said.
She added: “I’m pleased to see that … presidents from China and the United States have recently had lengthy calls. That is positive. Dialogue and diplomacy is what we need in these tense times.”
The European Union said it encouraged “a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues”. “Tensions should be resolved through dialogue. Appropriate channels of communication should be maintained to reduce risks of miscalculation,” a spokesperson for the 27-nation bloc said.
The European Commission spoksesperson said the EU had “a clear One China Policy”, recognising the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China while also pursuing “friendly relations and close cooperation with Taiwan”.