Sight Magazine – Pelosi arrives in Taiwan pledging US commitment; China enraged

Taipei, Taiwan

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday evening on a trip she says shows unwavering US commitment to the self-governing island claimed by China, but China has condemned the US visit at the highest level in 25 years as a threat to peace. and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Pelosi and the rest of her delegation disembarked from a US Air Force transport plane at Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei after landing overnight on a flight from Malaysia to begin a visit that risks pushing US-China relations to a new low. They were greeted by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, the United States’ top representative in Taiwan.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu greets Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi at Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2. PHOTO: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters

His arrival provoked a furious reaction from China at a time when international tensions are already heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States has 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 Taiwan’s 23 million people is more important now than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

Pelosi, second in line to the US presidency, is a longtime critic of China.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will meet Pelosi on Wednesday morning and then have lunch together, the presidential office said. Pelosi, traveling with six other U.S. lawmakers, became the highest-ranking U.S. political leader to visit Taiwan since 1997.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a strong protest with the United States, saying Pelosi’s visit seriously undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “has a serious impact on the political foundations of China-US relations and seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial sovereignty.” integrity”.

Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait ahead of its arrival. China’s military has been placed on high alert and will launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s visit, the Defense Ministry said.

The Chinese military has announced joint air and sea exercises near Taiwan from Tuesday evening and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire and other drills around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.

Pelosi is on an Asia tour which includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. His visit to Taiwan was unannounced but largely anticipated.

In a Washington Post opinion piece published after the landing, Pelosi explained his visit, praising Taiwan’s commitment to democratic government while criticizing China as having significantly increased tensions with Taiwan in recent years.

“We cannot sit idly by as the CCP continues to threaten Taiwan — and democracy itself,” Pelosi said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

Pelosi also cited China’s “brutal crackdown” on political dissent in Hong Kong and its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities, which the United States has called genocide.

Taiwan Taipei Nancy Pelosi and Joseph Wu2

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu greets Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi at Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2. PHOTO: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters.

As Pelosi’s motorcade approached his hotel, escorted by police cars with flashing red and blue lights, dozens of supporters cheered and ran toward the black vehicles, arms outstretched and phone cameras turned on. The motorcade drove straight into the hotel parking lot.

On Tuesday evening, Taiwan’s tallest building, Taipei 101, lit up with messages such as: “Welcome to Taiwan”, “Speaker Pelosi” and “Taiwan (Heart) USA”.

The White House reacts
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said after Pelosi’s arrival that the United States “will not be intimidated” by China’s threats or belligerent rhetoric and that it will not There is no reason for his visit to precipitate a crisis or a conflict.

“We will continue to support Taiwan, stand up for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and seek to maintain communication with Beijing,” Kirby said during a later White House briefing, adding that the United States “does not will not deliver to saber blows”.

Kirby said China could engage in “economic coercion” on Taiwan, adding that the impact on US-China relations will depend on Beijing’s actions in the days and weeks ahead.

Pelosi, 82, is a close ally of US President Joe Biden, both members of the Democratic Party, and has helped guide his legislative agenda in Congress.

Four sources said Pelosi is also expected to meet on Wednesday with activists who are outspoken about China’s human rights record.

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The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is required by US law to provide it with the means to defend itself. China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as an encouraging signal for the island’s pro-independence camp. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

Several Chinese fighter jets flew near the midline dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning before heading back out later in the day, a source told Reuters. Several Chinese warships have also sailed near the unofficial demarcation line since Monday and remained there, the source said.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 21 Chinese planes entered its air defense identification zone on Tuesday and China was trying to threaten key ports and cities with drills around the island. Taiwan’s armed forces have “enhanced” their level of vigilance, he added.

Taylor Fravel, a Chinese military expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said China’s planned drills appear to be more far-reaching than during the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995 and 1996.

“Taiwan will face military exercises and missile tests from the north, south, east and west. This is unprecedented,” Fravel said.

Four American warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reaganwere positioned in waters east of Taiwan in what the US Navy called routine deployments.

Russia, locked in a confrontation with the West over its invasion of Ukraine, condemned Pelosi’s visit. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the United States a “state provocateur”.

– Additional reporting by IDREES ALI and TREVOR HUNNICUTT

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