Russia backs China over 'provocative' Pelosi visit to Taiwan

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By Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia backed China on Tuesday over an expected visit to Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warning Washington that such a provocative trip would put the United States on a collision course with Beijing.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden against playing with fire over Taiwan in a call last week but three sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Pelosi was still set to visit the island.

"We cannot say for sure right now whether she will or will not get there, but everything about this tour and the possible visit to Taiwan is purely provocative," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the expected visit was a provocative attempt by Washington to pile pressure on China - with whom Russia has forged a strong partnership in recent years.

"The USA is a state provocateur," she said. "Russia confirms the principle of "one China" and opposes the independence of the island in any form."

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 Taiwan but is bound by U.S. law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

In the Chinese civil war, Mao Zedong's Communists defeated the forces of the Kuomintang (KMT), or nationalist party, under Chiang Kai-shek, forcing him to flee to Taiwan in 1949.

China has repeatedly warned against Pelosi going to Taiwan, which it claims as its own, while the United States said on Monday that it would not be intimidated by Chinese "sabre rattling".

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean)

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