House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a delegation of five other U.S. lawmakers met with Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday, the first stop on a tour of the Indo-Pacific region that could bring Pelosi to Taiwan.
Pelosi’s itinerary includes official stops in Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan after Singapore. Her possible, but as yet unannounced, stop in Taiwan has been opposed with increasingly belligerent threats by China. Chinese officials and state media mouthpieces have gone as far as suggesting a military response if Pelosi and her delegation try to land in Taiwan, perhaps even attempting to force her plane down or firing at it.
Senior Taiwanese and U.S. officials said over the weekend that Pelosi will stop in Taiwan, although her public itinerary has not been updated. A spokesman for Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Breitbart News McCaul was invited to accompany Pelosi to Taiwan “a few weeks ago,” but he was “unable to attend due to a prior commitment.”
Pelosi’s delegation includes House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY), House Veterans Affairs Committee chair Mark Takano (D-CA), and representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Andy Kim (D-NJ).
“We discussed ways to deepen educational and people-to-people ties between our two countries, and welcomed cooperation in new and forward-looking areas like climate change. We also exchanged views on fostering social cohesion and creating greater opportunities for women,” President Halimah said of her meeting with Pelosi.
Singapore is a member of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), an initiative launched in May 2022 that also includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The IPEF was touted by the White House as a fair trade alliance that would help member nations recover from the economic damage inflicted by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The members also made commitments to pursue clean energy and anti-corruption initiatives.
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a statement on Monday that Prime Minister Lee “welcomed the commitment expressed by the congressional delegation for strong US engagement of the region, and both sides discussed ways to deepen the US’ economic engagement of the region through initiatives such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”
Lee added that Singapore also sees “stable U.S.-China relations” as vital to “regional peace and security.”
The United States is the largest single foreign investor in Singapore by a considerable margin. American companies account for over 20 percent of foreign direct investment in Singapore, which is more than all Asian companies combined. American firms have almost 200,000 employees in Singapore.
Singapore is also a major regional security partner of the United States, a partnership that could be significantly tested if China makes good on its threats against Pelosi’s Taiwan visit.
When Lee visited Washington, D.C. in March, his joint statement with President Joe Biden spoke at length about the threat posed to the “rules-based international order” posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China has refused to condemn the actions of its Russian strategic partners. The joint statement also referred to tensions in the South China Sea, but diplomatically refrained from specifically calling China out as the source of those tensions.
Last week, the U.S. State Department approved Singapore’s request to purchase $630 million in military equipment, including munitions and support equipment for Singapore’s F-15 fighters.
Also last week, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan departed from Singapore after a friendly four-day port call, during which Singaporean officials reaffirmed the importance of their strategic partnership with the United States.
USS Ronald Reagan was operating in the South China Sea before visiting Singapore, and is expected to return to the region amid mounting tensions with China over Pelosi’s possible Taiwan visit.