U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday on a trip she said shows an unwavering American commitment to the Chinese-claimed self-ruled island, but China condemned the highest-level U.S. visit in 25 years as a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Pelosi and the rest of her delegation disembarked from a U.S. Air Force transport plane at Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei after the nighttime landing on a flight from Malaysia to begin a visit that risks pushing U.S.-Chinese relations to a new low. They were greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and Sandra Oudkirk, the top U.S. representative in Taiwan.
Her arrival prompted a furious response from China at a time when international tensions already are elevated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control. The United States warned China against using the visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.
“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
Pelosi, second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, is a long-time China critic.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will meet with Pelosi on Wednesday morning and then have lunch together, the presidential office said. Pelosi, travelling with six other American lawmakers, became the most-senior U.S. political leader to visit Taiwan since 1997. read more
China’s foreign ministry said it lodged a strong protest with the United States, saying Pelosi’s visit seriously damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait before her arrival. The Chinese military has been put on high alert and will launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s visit, the defence ministry said.
The Chinese military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting on Tuesday night and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, with Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday. read more
Pelosi is on an Asia tour that includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Her Taiwan visit was unannounced but widely anticipated.
In a Washington Post opinion piece released after landing, Pelosi explained her visit, praising Taiwan’s commitment to democratic government while criticizing China as having dramatically increased tensions with Taiwan in recent years.