Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan amid threats of Chinese retaliation

Pelosi’s station in Taipei was the first time a US House speaker had visited Taiwan in 25 years. Her trip comes at a low point in US-China relations and despite the Biden administration’s warnings not to stop in Taiwan.

Pelosi and her congressional delegation said in a statement Tuesday that the visit “honours America’s steadfast commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

“Our discussions with the Taiwanese leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partners and advancing our common interests, including moving the Indo-Pacific region forward,” the statement said. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people in Taiwan is more important today than ever before, as the world faces a choice between authoritarianism and democracy.”

China responded by declaring military exercises and aggressive rhetoric, warning that the spokesman’s visit “has a serious impact on the political foundation of Sino-US relations, and seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“It seriously undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and seriously sends a wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence’,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this, and has made a serious move and a strong protest to the United States.”

The Chinese military said it is on “high alert” and will conduct exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit, saying in comments that it is carrying out a series of “targeted military operations to counter the situation.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 21 Chinese warplanes intruded into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday. In response, the Taiwanese military issued radio alerts and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the activities.

China frequently sends warplanes to the ADIZ declared by Taiwan. The largest number of incursions ever recorded was on October 4 last year, when 56 military aircraft flew into the area on the same day. ADIZ is unilaterally imposed and distinct from sovereign airspace, which is defined under international law as extending 12 nautical miles from the territory’s coastline.

summoned the US ambassador

China’s anger was underlined when Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng summoned the US ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, late Tuesday night local time to protest the visit, Chinese state media CCTV reported on Wednesday.

Xi accused Pelosi of “deliberately provoking and playing with fire against the will of the people,” saying her visit was “extremely terrible” and the consequences would be “extremely serious.”

“Anyone who tries to manipulate the Taiwan issue for political gain… will eventually become a pillar of shame in history,” Shih said, according to the state media report.

Pelosi was received by the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday evening. “It is believed that the visit of Speaker Pelosi and other heavyweight members of Congress will enhance the close and friendly relations between Taiwan and the United States and further deepen the cooperation between the two sides in various fields worldwide,” the ministry said in a statement.

Taipei Mayor Koo Wen Jie also endorsed Pelosi’s visit but warned that the autonomous island should avoid being “between a rock and a hard place” in US-China relations.

“Taiwan should maintain its own agency. We are friends of the United States and Japan, and we should not have a bad relationship with China,” Koo said in a statement. “Taiwan lies between the United States and China. We must maintain an open channel of communication with China and the United States to effectively avoid crises.”

Pelosi will meet the president of Taiwan on Wednesday

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is expected to visit Taiwan’s presidential and parliament office Wednesday morning (local time), a senior Taiwanese official told CNN. The official said she would visit parliament first before heading to the presidential office to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Pelosi is expected to leave Taiwan later Wednesday, according to a State Department press release. The official was not allowed to talk about Pelosi’s unannounced travel plans.

Pelosi is traveling with House Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Mix of New York, Veterans Affairs Chairman Mark Takano of California and Representatives. Susan Delbini from Washington State, Raja Krishnamurthy from Illinois, and Andy Kim from New Jersey.

The American Institute in Taiwan said Pelosi’s delegation will meet with Taiwan’s top leaders “to discuss US-Taiwan relations, peace and security, economic growth and trade, the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights, democratic governance, and other important issues of concern.” joint”.

Pelosi wrote an opinion piece published in the Washington Post after her arrival on Tuesday, saying her trip demonstrated the United States’ commitment to Taiwan under threat from China. “In the face of the accelerating aggression of the Chinese Communist Party, our delegation’s visit to Congress should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” the California Democrat wrote.

Pelosi’s station in Taiwan was not on the itinerary of her congressional visit to Asia, but the stop was discussed for weeks in the lead up to her trip. The potential halt prompted warnings from China as well as the Biden administration, which briefed the spokesperson on the dangers of visiting the democratic autonomous island, which China claims as part of its territory.

What you need to know about Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

The White House said Tuesday that Pelosi’s trip is in line with US policy on Taiwan, and that the United States will closely monitor China’s actions after Pelosi’s departure.

“Obviously we will be watching this closely. There is no reason for this visit to become a catalytic event for a crisis or conflict or a pretext that the Chinese might try to instigate some kind of military action,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, said on In This The Hour with Kate Bolduan” on CNN on Tuesday.

“Of course, we’re concerned about that, which is why an integral part of her trip is to reaffirm the United States’ commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to assist Taiwan in self-defense,” Kirby added. “Again, there is no reason for this conflict to erupt. There is no change in our policy. This is totally consistent with it. And we’ll just watch as things unfold.”

bipartisan praise

A group of more than two dozen Senate Republicans, including Senate Republican Party leader Mitch McConnell, issued a statement endorsing the landing of Pelosi’s congressional delegation, which was all Democrats, in Taiwan.

“We support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan,” the Republicans said. “For decades, members of the United States Congress, including former Speakers of the House of Representatives, have traveled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the one-China policy of the United States to which we adhere. We are also committed now, more than ever to all elements of the Law on Relationships with Taiwan.

McConnell praised Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan, saying on Tuesday he believed “she has every right to go.”

“It was inappropriate and counterproductive that President Biden and his aides publicly sought to deter her from doing so,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I welcome the speaker’s display of support for democracy in Taiwan, but I hope she returns from Asia more aware of the military dimensions of the Chinese threat, and more committed to working with Republicans to address the changing balance of military power in the region.”

Analysis: Pelosi's expected visit to Taiwan risks creating more instability between the US and China

US President Joe Biden said publicly before Pelosi traveled that the US military did not think the time was right for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, but did not directly tell her not to go, two sources previously told CNN.

Kirby said on Tuesday that Biden had not spoken to Pelosi before her trip.

The issue of Taiwan remains one of the most contentious issues in US-China relations. Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, discussed the matter at length during a phone call last week that lasted more than two hours.

Administration officials are concerned that Pelosi’s trip comes at a particularly tense moment, as Xi is expected to seek an unprecedented third term at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party Congress. Chinese party officials are expected to begin laying the groundwork for that congress in the coming weeks, putting pressure on the leadership in Beijing to show strength.

While Biden has not endorsed Pelosi’s visit, US officials believe that the Chinese leadership may be confusing the speaker’s trip in the House of Representatives with an official visit to the administration, and they are concerned that China is not separating Pelosi from Biden, much, if any, because both are. Democrats.

Pelosi has long been a China hawk in Congress. She has previously met pro-democracy opponents and the Dalai Lama – the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who remains a thorn in the side of the Chinese government. She also helped display a black and white banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square two years after the 1989 massacre, and in recent years has expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

Wayne Chang, Chun Ding, Young Xiong, Hannah Ritchie, Kristen Wilson, Betsy Klein, Kylie Atwood, Alex Rogers, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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