Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, landed in Chinese-controlled Taiwan late on Tuesday aboard a U.S. military plane. This was Pelosi’s first visit to the island in 25 years, and it might further deteriorate ties between Washington and Beijing.
Nancy in a tweet wrote : Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific.
However, China has expressed outrage and threats in response to this trip on the multi-stop tour of Asia by the US House Speaker. The last time a US official went to the island country was in 1977, when Newt Gingrich went to Taipei shortly after going to Beijing. China just expressed disapproval of his visit, but no actual harm was done.
The top American diplomat in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk, and Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, met Pelosi and her delegation when they descended from a U.S. Air Force cargo plane at Songshan Airport in the heart of Taipei.
Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi
“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.”
The People’s Republic of China believes that Taiwan’s sovereignty belongs to China, the PRC’s government and supporters believe that the secession of Taiwan should be agreed upon by all 1.3 billion Chinese citizens instead of just the 23 million residents of Taiwan.
Pelosi was on a tour of Asia that includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Her stop in Taiwan had not been announced but had been widely anticipated.
Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday before her arrival, as China’s leadership warned against the visit by Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and a long-time critic of Beijing.
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned Pelosi’s visit, saying it seriously damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
In a statement issued just after her arrival in Taipei late on Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry said Pelosi’s visit severely impacts the political foundations of China-US relations, and said it had lodged a strong protest with the United States.
The United States said on Monday it would not be intimidated by what it called Chinese “sabre-rattling”.
Most of Pelosi’s planned meetings, including with President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday, a person familiar with her itinerary said. Four sources said she was scheduled on Wednesday afternoon to meet a group of activists who are outspoken about China’s human rights record.
Pelosi, 82, is a close ally of U.S. President Joe Biden, both being members of the Democratic Party, and has been a key figure in guiding his legislative agenda through the U.S. Congress.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans, while her office had also kept silent.
On Tuesday night, Taiwan’s tallest building, Taipei 101, lit up with messages including: “Welcome to Taiwan”, “Speaker Pelosi”, “Taiwan (heart) USA”.
With tensions already high, several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning before leaving later in the day, a source told Reuters.
Several Chinese warships have also sailed near the unofficial dividing line since Monday and remained there, the source said.
The Chinese aircraft repeatedly conducted tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait while Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby, the person said.
Neither side’s aircraft normally cross the median line.