Pelosi to visit Taiwan despite Beijing warnings: sources

STORY: NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect sources that spoke to Reuters on the subject of upcoming visits to Taiwan by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. An earlier version cited local Taiwanese media reports only.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was set to visit Taiwan on Tuesday, three sources said, as the U.S. said it wouldn't be intimidated by Chinese threats to not “sit idly by” if she made the trip to visit the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.

One source told Reuters that the United States had informed some allies about Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

Two other sources said Pelosi was scheduled to meet a small group of activists who are outspoken about China's human rights record during her stay in Taiwan, possibly on Wednesday.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans.

Pelosi’s office said on Sunday that she was leading a congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. It did not mention Taiwan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing on Monday that a Pelosi visit would lead to serious consequences.

"If U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi goes to Taiwan, it will be a gross interference in China's internal affairs, seriously undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, wantonly trample on the one-China principle, seriously threaten peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and seriously damage China-U.S. relations, leading to very serious developments and consequences. (flash) We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by and the Chinese People's Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and that China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island's future.

China views visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp in the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with the island but is bound by U.S. law to provide it with the means to defend itself.

A video by the People’s Liberation Army, which showed scenes of military exercises and preparations, was posted to state media sites Monday evening.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dismissed China's rhetoric as groundless and inappropriate at a White House press briefing Monday.

"The Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan and a Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident as have many members of Congress including this year. Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or conflict."

Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit Taiwan, in 1997. A visit by Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and a long-time critic of China, would come amid worsening ties between Washington and Beijing.

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