Pelosi arrives in Taiwan and expresses the “solidarity” of the United States while China fumes

  • Pelosi: The world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy
  • Chinese fighter jets fly over Taiwan Strait dividing line
  • Beijing says self-ruled Taiwan is part of China
  • China plans military exercises

TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night on a trip she said demonstrates American solidarity with the self-governing island claimed by China, but China condemned this first such 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 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 bring US-China relations to a new low point. They were received by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, the top US representative in Taiwan.

“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors the United States’ 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 today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” read more

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will meet with Pelosi, second in line to the US presidency and a longtime critic of Beijing, on Wednesday morning, and then have lunch together, the presidential office said. . Pelosi, traveling with six other US lawmakers, is the first US House Speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997. read more

China immediately condemned Pelosi’s visit, with the Foreign Ministry saying it seriously damages peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, “has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. The ministry said it filed a strong protest with the United States.

Chinese warplanes flew over the line dividing the Taiwan Strait before their arrival. The Chinese military has been placed on high alert and will launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s visit, the Defense Ministry said.

The People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command announced that it will hold joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting Tuesday night and test launch conventional missiles at sea east of Taiwan. read more

Pelosi is on a tour of Asia that includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. His stop in Taiwan was not announced but was widely anticipated.

In a Washington Post op-ed published shortly after she landed, Pelosi outlined the reasons for her visit, praising Taiwan’s commitment to democratic rule and criticizing China for having dramatically increased tensions with Taiwan in recent years.

“We cannot sit idly by while the CCP proceeds 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, as well as its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities, which the United States has deemed genocide.

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

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said after Pelosi’s arrival that the United States “will not be intimidated” by threats or bellicose rhetoric from China. Kirby said the visit is not a violation of any sovereignty issue or the US “one China policy.”

“There is no reason for this visit to become a triggering event for a crisis or conflict,” Kirby said.

Pelosi, 82, is a close ally of US President Joe Biden, both members of the Democratic Party, and has been a key figure in guiding his legislative agenda through the US Congress.

Four sources said Pelosi was also scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon with a group of activists who are outspoken about China’s human rights record.

On Tuesday night, Taiwan’s tallest building, Taipei 101, was lit up with messages including: “Welcome to Taiwan,” “Speaker Pelosi,” “Taiwan (heart) USA.”

China believes that the visits by US officials to Taiwan send an encouraging signal to supporters of independence on the democratic and self-governing island. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s claims of sovereignty and says only its people can decide the island’s future.

The United States has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is required by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

US stocks struggled for gains and the dollar and gold rose on Tuesday amid rising tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan. read more

CHINESE WAR PLANES AND SHIPS

With tensions already high, several Chinese fighter jets flew close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning before leaving later that 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 plane repeatedly made tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back across the strait while Taiwanese planes were on standby nearby, the person said.

Aircraft from neither side normally cross the median line.

Four US warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, were stationed in waters east of Taiwan in what the US Navy called routine deployments. The aircraft carrier had transited the South China Sea and was now in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan and the Philippines and south of Japan, a US Navy official told Reuters.

It was operating with the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins, with the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli also in the area.

Since last week, China’s PLA has held various exercises, including live-fire drills, in the South China Sea, Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea, in a display of Chinese military might.

Russia, locked in a confrontation with the West over its invasion of Ukraine, condemned Pelosi’s visit. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said it was a provocative attempt by the United States to put pressure on China, a country with which Russia has forged a strong partnership in recent years.

“The United States is a provocative state,” Zakharova said. “Russia upholds the ‘one China’ principle and opposes the island’s independence in any form.”

During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned Biden that Washington must abide by the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire will perish for it.” Biden told Xi that the US policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington firmly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu, and Fabian Hamacher in Taipei, Yew Lun Tian and Ryan Woo in Beijing, Brenda Goh in Shanghai, and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Written by Tony Munroe and Michael Martina; Edited by Will Dunham, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment