being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

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McCarthy Unveils House GOP’s Midterm Agenda In Pennsylvania

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday directly confronted President Joe Biden and the party in power, choosing battleground Pennsylvania to unveil a midterm election agenda with sweeping Trump-like promises despite the House GOP’s sometimes spotty record of delivering and governing in Congress.

McCarthy, who is poised to seize the speaker’s gavel if Republicans win control of the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy former Speaker Newt Gingrich used to spark voter enthusiasm and sweep House control in a 1994 landslide.

The House GOP’s “Commitment to America” gives a nod to that earlier era but updates it for Trump, with economic, border security and social policies to rouse the former president’s deep well of supporters in often-forgotten regions like this rusty landscape outside Pittsburgh.

“What we’re going to roll out today is a ‘Commitment to America’ in Washington — not Washington, D.C., but Washington County, Pennsylvania,” McCarthy said at a manufacturing facility. “Because it’s about you, it’s not about us.”

On Friday, the House Republican leader stood with a cross-section of other lawmakers to roll out the GOP agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition that makes up the House minority — and the Republican Party itself. 

The GOP has shifted from its focus on small government, low taxes and individual freedoms to a more populist, nationalist and, at times, far-right party, essentially still led by Trump, who remains popular despite the deepening state and federal investigations against him.

Propelled by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” voters, the Republicans need to pick up just a few seats to win back control of the narrowly-split House, and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from guaranteed.

While Republicans and Trump did pass tax cuts into law, the GOP’s last big campaign promise, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, collapsed in failure. A long line of Republican speakers, including Gingrich, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, have been forced from office or chose early retirement, often ground down by party infighting.

“House Republicans are really good at running people out of town,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.

McCarthy, first elected to office in 2006, is among the remaining political survivors of those House Republican battles, and he’s a new style of leader who has shown more ability to communicate than to legislate.

A key architect of the Republican “tea party” takeover in 2010, the California Republican personally recruited the newcomers to Congress — many who had never served in public office and are long gone. McCarthy was an early Trump endorser, and has remained close to the former president, relying on his high-profile endorsements to propel GOP candidates for Congress. He abandoned an earlier bid to become speaker when support from his colleagues drifted.

The “Commitment to America” reflects the strength of McCarthy’s abilities, but also his weaknesses. He spent more than a year pulling together the House GOP’s often warring factions — from the far-right MAGA to what’s left of the more centrist ranks — to produce a mostly agreed upon agenda.

But the one-page “commitment” preamble is succinct, essentially a pocket card, though it is expected to be filled in with the kind of detail that is needed to make laws.

“They talk about a lot of problems,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “They don’t have a lot of solutions.”

In traveling to battleground Pennsylvania, a state where President Biden holds emotional ties from his early childhood, McCarthy intends to counter the president’s fiery Labor Day weekend speech, in which he warned of rising GOP extremism after the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, with a more upbeat message.

The event is billed as more of a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers rather than a stirring address in a uniquely contested state.

Along with as many as five House seats Republicans believe they can pick up in Pennsylvania in November, the state has one of the most watched Senate races, between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, that will help determine control of Congress. Top of the ticket is the seismic governor’s matchup between the GOP’s Doug Mastriano, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.

“If you are a hardline, populist, and you really want anger, Kevin’s a little frustrating because he’s not going to be angry enough for you,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to have your values implemented and passed in the legislation, he is a really good leader and organizer.”

Gingrich has been working with McCarthy and his team to craft the style and substance of the proposal. The former speaker, who has been asked by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand Thursday in Washington, joining McCarthy as he unveiled the plans privately to House Republicans, who have been mixed on the approach.

Mostly, the GOP pocket card hits broad strokes — energy independence, security and an end to liberal social policies, particularly in schooling.

Conservative Republicans complain privately that McCarthy isn’t leaning hard enough into their priorities, as he tries to appeal to a broader swath of voters and hold the party together.

Many are eager to launch investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s family, with some calling for impeachment. Legislatively, some House Republicans want to fulfill the party’s commitment to banning abortion, supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In a sign of the pressures ahead for McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to plans from Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to prevent many gender reassignment procedures for minors, celebrating the Georgian as courageous for taking such a hardline approach.

She and others were invited to join Friday’s event, as McCarthy seeks their backing.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has advocated for withholding federal funds as leverage for policy priorities, the tactic that engineered past government shutdowns.

“Putting out like, you know, principles about, ‘Well, we’ll secure the border.’ I mean, okay, but what are we gonna do about it?” Roy said. “The end of the day, I want specific actionable items that’s going to show that we’re going to fight for the American people.”

It’s notable that McCarthy alone has proposed a plan if Republicans win control of the House chamber. In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell has declined to put forward an agenda, preferring to simply run against President Biden and Democrats in the midterm election.

“Kevin’s done a very good job of being in position to become the speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with that? Schlapp said. “This helps as a road map.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Pelosi Says U.S. Will Not Abandon Taiwan As China Protests

“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad,” said U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meeting leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation are showing they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises around the island, parts of which will enter Taiwanese waters, and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation touched down Tuesday night in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

Taiwan decried the planned actions.

“Such an act equals to sealing off Taiwan by air and sea, such an act covers our country’s territory and territorial waters, and severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty,” Capt. Jian-chang Yu said at a briefing by the National Defense Ministry.

The Chinese military exercises, including live fire, are to start Thursday and be the largest aimed at Taiwan since 1995, when China fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show its displeasure at a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to the U.S.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency announced the military actions Tuesday night, along with a map outlining six different areas around Taiwan. Arthur Zhin-Sheng Wang, a defense studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University, said three of the areas infringe on Taiwanese waters, meaning they are within 12 nautical miles of shore.

Using live fire in a country’s territorial airspace or waters is risky, said Wang, adding that “according to international rules of engagement, this can possibly be seen as an act of war.”

Pelosi’s trip has heightened U.S.-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-level position as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first speaker of the House to visit Taiwan in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Taiwanese President Tsai responded Wednesday to Beijing’s military intimidation.

“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said at her meeting with Pelosi. “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Tsai, thanking Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a civilian honor, the Order of the Propitious Clouds.

China’s response has been loud and varied.

Shortly after Pelosi landed Tuesday night, China announced live-fire drills that reportedly started that night, as well as the four-day exercises starting Thursday.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force also flew a contingent of 21 war planes Tuesday night, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng also summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, Nicholas Burns, to convey the country’s protests the same night.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV published images of PLA drills and video Wednesday, although it was unclear where they were being conducted.

Pelosi addressed Beijing’s threats Wednesday morning, saying she hopes it’s clear that while China has prevented Taiwan from attending certain international meetings, “that they understand they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and of support.”

Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island’s democracy. She stopped short of saying that the U.S would defend Taiwan militarily, emphasizing that Congress is “committed to the security of Taiwan, in order to have Taiwan be able to most effectively defend themselves.”

Her focus has always been the same, she said, going back to her 1991 visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when she and other lawmakers unfurled a small banner supporting democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters at the square. That visit was also about human rights and what she called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue countries.”

Pelosi is visiting a human rights museum in Taipei that details the history of the island’s martial law era later Wednesday before she departs for South Korea, the next stop on an Asia tour that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

Pelosi, who is leading the trip with five other members of Congress, also met with representatives from Taiwan’s legislature.

“Madam Speaker’s visit to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of upholding human rights and consolidation of the values of democracy and freedom,” Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan’s legislature, said in welcome.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to tone down the volume on the visit, insisting there’s no change in America’s longstanding “one-China policy,” which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation has “heft,” including Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamoorthi from the House Intelligence Committee.

She also mentioned Rep. Suzan DelBene, whom Pelosi said was instrumental in the passage of a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting American manufacturing and research in semiconductor chips — an industry that Taiwan dominates and is vital for modern electronics.

Reps. Andy Kim and Mark Takano are also in the delegation.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi Arrives In Taiwan, Defying Beijing

Nancy Pelosi framed her visit as part of a mission when “the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China, which quickly announced that it would conduct military maneuvers in retaliation for her presence.

Pelosi flew in aboard a U.S. Air Force passenger jet and was greeted on the tarmac at Taipei’s international airport by Taiwan’s foreign minister and other Taiwanese and American officials. She posed for photos before her motorcade whisked her unseen into the parking garage of a hotel.

Her visit ratcheted up tension between China and the United States because China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and it views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

The Biden administration and Pelosi say the U.S. remains committed to the so-called one-China policy, which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

The speaker framed the trip as part of a broader mission at a time when “the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” Her visit comes after she led a congressional delegation to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the spring, and it serves as a capstone to her many years of promoting democracy abroad.

“We must stand by Taiwan,” she said in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on her arrival in Taiwan. She cited the commitment that the U.S. made to a democratic Taiwan under a 1979 law. “It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats,” she wrote.

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory and has not ruled out using military force to take it.

The Biden administration did not explicitly urge Pelosi to call off her plans; IT repeatedly and publicly assured Beijing that the visit did not signal any change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

Soon after Pelosi’s arrival, China announced a series of military operations and drills, which followed promises of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went through with her visit.

The People’s Liberation Army said the maneuvers would take place in the waters and skies near Taiwan and include the firing of long-range ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.

“This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces seeking ‘independence.’”

China’s official Xinhua News said the army planned to conduct live-fire drills from Aug. 4 to Aug. 7 across multiple locations. An image released by the news agency indicated that the drills were to take place in six different areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility.”

“Some American politicians are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan,” Wang said in a statement that referred to the U.S. as “the world’s biggest saboteur of peace.”

Back in the U.S., 26 Republican lawmakers issued a statement of rare bipartisan support for the Democratic speaker. The statement called trips by members of Congress to Taiwan routine.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell backed Pelosi’s visit as a display of support for Taiwan’s democracy and said any allegations that her itinerary was provocative were “utterly absurd.”

“I believe she has every right to go,” McConnell said in a Senate speech.

Senators are considering legislation to bolster Taiwan’s defense as direct response to China’s rhetoric. The Taiwan Policy Act, which has support from both parties, will be discussed Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The package would bolster Taiwan’s defense capabilities with nearly $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years and provide other support for Taiwan’s democratic government and civil society. The measure would also designate Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally,” which opens the door to more security and trade benefits.

Backers call it the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

Pelosi’s trip was not officially announced ahead of time.

Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei. Journalists and onlookers thronged the streets just outside and pressed against the hotel’s lobby windows as they awaited Pelosi’s motorcade. Two buildings in the capital lit up LED displays with words of welcome, including the iconic Taipei 101 building, which said “Welcome to Taiwan, Speaker Pelosi.”

China has stepped up overflights and other provocative moves toward Taiwan and neighboring territory in recent years, asserting broad claims of its rights around the region.

China’s military threats have driven concerns about a new crisis in the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait that could roil global markets and supply chains.

The White House insisted that China had no valid cause for anger.

“The United States will not seek, and does not want, a crisis,” John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told a White House briefing Tuesday. “At the same time, we will not engage in saber-rattling.”

U.S. officials have said the American military will increase its movements in the Indo-Pacific region during Pelosi’s visit. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were in the Philippine Sea on Monday, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.

The Reagan, the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins left Singapore after a port visit and moved north to their home port in Japan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said early Wednesday that China had sent 21 planes flying toward Taiwan, 18 of them fighter jets. The rest included an early warning plane and an electronic warfare plane.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support. Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the U.S. government, is the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Pelosi’s aircraft, an Air Force version of the Boeing 737, took a roundabout route, flying east over Indonesia rather than directly over the South China Sea.

The speaker has long challenged China on human rights, including traveling to Tiananmen Square in 1991, two years after China crushed a wave of democracy protests.

In 2009, she hand-delivered a letter to then-President Hu Jintao calling for the release of political prisoners. She had sought to visit Taiwan’s island democracy earlier this year before testing positive for COVID-19.

China has been steadily ratcheting up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. China cut off all contact with Taiwan’s government in 2016 after President Tsai Ing-wen refused to endorse its claim that the island and mainland together make up a single Chinese nation, with the communist regime in Beijing being the sole legitimate government.

Pelosi kicked off her Asian tour Monday in Singapore. She is to travel to Japan and South Korea later this week.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Report: Pelosi To Visit Taiwan Despite Warnings From China

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
August 1, 2022

China reiterated previous warnings to the U.S., saying serious consequences ensue if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists on visiting Taiwan.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan during her high-profile overseas trip to Asia despite warnings from Chinese officials to not interfere in the region, according to a report by CNN.

While the report cites senior U.S. and Chinese officials, it’s still unclear if and when Pelosi’s visit will happen.

China on Monday reiterated previous warnings to the U.S., saying serious consequences ensue if Pelosi insists on visiting Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters at a daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the visit would “trample on the one-China principle and gravely threaten peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”

He did not spell out any specific consequences but reiterated that Beijing is “fully prepared and solemnly waiting.”

“The People’s Liberation Army will never sit by idly” and China would “take resolute and strong measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he warned.

Zhao refused to reveal the potential responses, saying “let’s wait and see if she dares making the visit.”

Pelosi arrived in Singapore early Monday, kicking off her Asian tour as questions swirled over a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing.

She didn’t confirm news reports that she might visit Taiwan, which is claimed by Beijing as its own territory.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step U.S. leaders say they don’t support.

Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the U.S. government, would be the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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A Richer, Stronger China Warns Pelosi Not To Visit Taiwan

By Associated Press
July 28, 2022

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to confirm whether she might visit the island, but Beijing is threatening retaliation if she does.

Beijing grumbled but swallowed its irritation in 1997 when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Taiwan, the island democracy claimed by the mainland’s ruling Communist Party as its own territory.

China had other priorities. President Jiang Zemin’s government was preparing to celebrate Hong Kong’s return and wanted to lock in Beijing’s emergence from diplomatic isolation after its 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Gingrich, a booster of closer U.S.-Chinese ties, had just helped that campaign by meeting Jiang in Beijing. China avoided a disruptive clash with Washington.

A quarter-century later, conditions have changed drastically. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government is richer, more heavily armed and less willing to compromise over Taiwan following news reports the current speaker, Nancy Pelosi, might become the most senior U.S. official since Gingrich to visit the island.

Beijing sees any official contact with Taiwan as recognition of its democratically elected government, which the mainland says has no right to conduct foreign relations.

The timing adds to political pressure. Xi is widely expected to try to award himself a third five-year term as party leader at a meeting in the autumn. That could be undercut if rivals can accuse Xi of failing to be tough enough in the face of what they consider American provocation.

Pelosi has yet to confirm whether she might visit, but Beijing is warning of “forceful measures” including military action if she does.

The United States “must not arrange for Pelosi to visit Taiwan,” a Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman, Tan Kefei, said Tuesday.

“If the United States goes ahead with this, the Chinese military will never watch and do nothing,” Tan said. “It will take strong measures to thwart any external interference and separatist plans for ‘Taiwan independence’ and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Tan referred to Pelosi as “No. 3 in the U.S. government,” after her place in the line of succession to become president. That suggests Beijing sees her as President Joe Biden’s subordinate, instead of his equal as head of one of three independent branches of the government.

President Biden told reporters the American military thinks a visit is “not a good idea right now.” But, possibly in deference to her position, the president hasn’t said Pelosi shouldn’t go. U.S. officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes, the American military would likely use fighter jets, ships and other forces to provide protection for her flight.

U.S. officials have said the administration doubts China would take direct action against Pelosi herself or try to sabotage the visit. But they don’t rule out the possibility that China could escalate provocative flights of military aircraft in or near Taiwanese airspace and naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait should the trip take place. And they don’t preclude Chinese actions elsewhere in the region as a show of strength.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland. Both governments say they are one country but disagree about which is the national leader. The two sides have no official relations but are connected by billions of dollars of trade and investment.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has extensive commercial and unofficial ties with the island. U.S. law obligates Washington to make sure Taiwan has the means to defend itself.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Biden Schedules Call With China’s Xi Amid Tensions Over Taiwan

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
July 27, 2022

A possible trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has prompted China’s warning of a severe response.

U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the first time in four months, with a wide range of bilateral and international issues on the table.

But a potential visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is looming over the conversation set for Thursday, with China warning of a severe response if she travels to the self-governing island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory.

On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the presidential phone call. However, spokesperson Zhao Lijian reiterated China’s warnings over a Pelosi visit.

“If the U.S. insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing. “All ensuing consequences shall be borne by the U.S.”

Pelosi’s office has yet to say when, or even if, she will proceed with the visit, but the timing is especially sensitive amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over trade, human rights and Taiwan.

While the U.S. has in recent years sent a Cabinet secretary and high-ranking former officials to Taiwan, Pelosi’s status as the top congressional Democrat and second in line of succession to the presidency puts her in a separate category. The speaker has made standing up to China a key feature of her more than three decades in Congress.

While President Biden has no authority to prevent Pelosi from visiting, China’s authoritarian Communist government chooses to ignore the separation of powers in the U.S., saying Congress is beholden to the administration. In Beijing’s perception, the fact both belong to the Democratic Party reinforces the notion that Pelosi is somehow working with the president’s assent.

Despite that, President Biden last week told reporters that U.S. military officials believed it was “not a good idea” for the speaker to visit the island at the moment. The Financial Times reported last week that Pelosi planned to visit Taiwan in August, a trip that had originally been planned for April but was postponed after she tested positive for COVID-19.

Pelosi would be the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to travel to Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997 when he served as House speaker. Gingrich and other prominent Republicans who are normally highly critical of Pelosi have offered their encouragement, saying China has no right to dictate where Americans can travel to.

China has given no details on what specific actions it would take in response, but experts say it could launch additional incursions into waters and airspace near Taiwan, or even cross the center line of the Taiwan Strait dividing the two. Some have speculated China might even attempt to prevent her plane from landing, something that would spark a major crisis and is generally considered unlikely.

U.S. officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, the military will increase movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region.

They declined to provide details, but said that fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems would likely be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time on the ground there.

The U.S. has only informal relations and defense ties with Taipei in deference to China, but remains the island’s most important source of military and political support. Legally, the U.S. is obligated to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and regard threats to it as matters of “grave concern.”

China, which in recent years has boosted its threat to use force to annex Taiwan if necessary, objects to all U.S. arms sales and contacts with the island’s government.

It regularly stages military exercises and flies warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, in what it calls warnings to supporters of the island’s formal independence and their foreign allies.

The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused Beijing’s demand that she recognize the island as a part of China. Public sentiment in Taiwan strongly favors maintaining the status quo of de-facto independence without further antagonizing Beijing.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Trump Returning To Washington To Deliver Policy Speech

Advisers are urging him to spend more time talking about his vision for the future and less time relitigating the 2020 election.

Former President Donald Trump will return to Washington on Tuesday for the first time since leaving office, delivering a policy speech before an allied think tank that has been crafting an agenda for a possible second term.

Trump will address the America First Policy Institute’s two-day America First Agenda Summit as some advisers urge him to spend more time talking about his vision for the future and less time relitigating the 2020 election as he prepares to announce an expected 2024 White House campaign.

“I believe it will be a very policy-focused, forward-leaning speech, very much like a State of the Union 5.0,” said Brooke Rollins, AFPI’s president. Composed of former Trump administration officials and allies, the nonprofit is widely seen as an “administration in waiting” that could quickly move to the West Wing if Trump were to run again and win.

Trump’s appearance in Washington — his first trip back since Jan. 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden was sworn into office — comes as his potential 2024 rivals have been taking increasingly overt steps to challenge his status as the party’s standard-bearer. They include former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been touting his own “Freedom Agenda” in speeches that serve as an implicit contrast with Trump.

“Some people may choose to focus on the past, but I believe conservatives must focus on the future. If we do, we won’t just win the next election, we will change the course of American history for generations,” Pence had planned to say in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on the eve of Trump’s visit. Pence’s appearance was postponed because of bad weather, but he will be delivering his own speech Tuesday morning before the Young America’s Foundation not far from the AFPI meeting.

Trump has spent much of his time since leaving office fixated on the 2020 election and spreading lies about his loss to sow doubt about President Biden’s victory. Indeed, even as the Jan. 6 committee was laying bare his desperate and potentially illegal attempts to remain in power and his refusal to call off a violent mob of his supporters as they tried to halt the peaceful transition of power, Trump continued to try to pressure officials to overturn President Biden’s win, despite there being no legal means to decertify the past election.

On Tuesday, he plans to focus on public safety.

“President Trump sees a nation in decline that is driven, in part, by rising crime and communities becoming less safe under Democrat policies,” said his spokesman, Taylor Budowich. “His remarks will highlight the policy failures of Democrats, while laying out an America First vision for public safety that will surely be a defining issue during the midterms and beyond.”

Beyond the summit, staff at the America First Policy Institute have been laying their own groundwork for the future, “making sure we do have the policies, personnel and process nailed down for every key agency when we do take the White House back,” Rollins said.

The nonprofit developed, she said, from efforts to avoid the chaotic early days of Trump’s first term, when he arrived at the White House unprepared, with no clear plans ready to put in place. As Trump was running for reelection, Rollins, then the head of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, began to sketch out a second-term agenda with fellow administration officials, including top economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow and national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

When it became clear Trump would be leaving the White House, she said, AFPI was created to continue that work “organized around that second term agenda that we never released.”

The organization, once dismissed as a landing zone for ex-Trump administration officials shut out of more lucrative jobs, has grown into a behemoth, with an operating budget of around $25 million and 150 staff, including 17 former senior White Houses officials and nine former Cabinet members.

The group also has more than 20 policy centers and has tried to extend its reach beyond Washington with efforts to influence local legislatures and school boards. An “American leadership initiative,” led by the former head of the Office of Personnel Management, Michael Rigas, launched several weeks ago to identify future staff loyal to Trump and his “America First” approach who could be hired as part of a larger effort to replace large swaths of the civil service, as Axios recently reported.

The group is one of several Trump-allied organizations that have continued to push his policies in his absence, including America First Legal, dedicated to fighting President Biden’s agenda through the court system, the Center for Renewing America and the Conservative Partnership Institute.

The summit is intended to highlight AFPI’s “America First Agenda,” centered around 10 key policy areas including the economy, health care and election security. It includes many of Trump’s signature issues, like continuing to build a wall along the southern border and a plan to “dismantle the administrative state.”

In a speech Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose “Contract with America” has been credited with helping Republicans sweep the 1994 midterm elections, praised the effort as key to future GOP victory.

“The American people want solutions,” he said

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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China warns U.S. against House Speaker Pelosi visiting Taiwan, article with image

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2022. Eric Lee/Pool via REUTERS

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BEIJING, April 7 (Reuters) – China warned on Thursday it would take strong measures if U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan and said such a visit would severely impact Chinese-U.S. relations, following media reports she would go next week.

China considers democratically ruled Taiwan its own territory and the subject is a constant source of friction between Beijing and Washington, especially given strong U.S. military and political support for the island.

The possible visit has not been confirmed by Pelosi’s office or Taiwan’s government, but some Japanese and Taiwanese media reported it would take place after she visits Japan this weekend.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that Beijing firmly opposed all forms of official interactions between the United States and Taiwan, and Washington should cancel the trip.

“If the United States insists on having its own way, China will take strong measures in response to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. All possible consequences that arise from this will completely be borne by the U.S. side,” he added, without giving details.

In Taipei, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou would only say that inviting U.S. officials and dignitaries had always been “an important part” of the ministry’s work, and that it would announce any official visits at an appropriate time.

Sunday marks the 43rd anniversary of the United States signing into law the Taiwan Relations Act, which guides ties in the absence of formal diplomatic relations and enshrines a U.S. commitment to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

The last time a House speaker visited Taiwan was in 1997, when Newt Gingrich met then-President Lee Teng-hui.

Pelosi, a long time critic of China, particularly on human rights issues, held a virtual meeting with Taiwan Vice President William Lai in January as he wrapped up a visit to the United States and Honduras. read more

Pelosi is one of the ruling Democratic Party’s most high-profile politicians, and second in the U.S. presidential line of succession after the vice president.

Taiwan has been heartened by continued U.S. support offered by the Biden administration, which has repeatedly talked of its “rock-solid” commitment to the island.

That has strained already poor Sino-U.S. relations.

In March, a delegation of former senior U.S. defence and security officials sent by President Joe Biden visited Taiwan, a strong show of support coming soon after Russia invaded Ukraine. read more

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Reporting by Martin Pollard; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei;
Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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