Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan amid threats of retaliation from China

Pelosi’s stay in Taipei is the first visit by a speaker of the US House of Representatives to Taiwan in 25 years. Her trip comes at the height of US-China relations, despite warnings from the Biden administration against stopping in Taiwan.

Pelosi and an accompanying congressional delegation said Tuesday that the visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s dynamic democracy.”

“Our discussions with the leadership of Taiwan will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and advancing our common interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said. “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.”

China responded with military exercises and belligerent rhetoric, warning that the speaker’s visit “has a serious impact on the political basis of Sino-US relations and seriously encroaches on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“This seriously undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and sends the wrong signal to separatist forces about ‘Taiwan independence,'” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “China strongly opposes and strongly condemns this and has made a serious demarche and strong protest to the United States.”

The Chinese military said it was on “high alert” and would conduct exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s trip, saying in statements it was launching a series of “targeted military operations to counter the situation.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 21 Chinese warplanes infiltrated its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADZ) on Tuesday. In response, the Taiwanese military issued radio warnings and deployed surface-to-air missile systems to monitor the activity, he added.

China often sends military aircraft to Taiwan’s self-proclaimed air defense. 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. Air defense is established unilaterally and is distinct from sovereign airspace, which is defined under international law as extending 12 nautical miles from a territory’s coastline.

U.S. ambassador summoned

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

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

“Anyone who tries to manipulate the Taiwan issue for political gain… will end up being pilloried in history,” Xie said, according to a state media report.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Pelosi on Tuesday evening. “It is believed that the visit of Speaker Pelosi and other influential members of Congress will strengthen the close and friendly relations between Taiwan and the United States and further deepen cooperation between the two parties in various fields on a global scale,” the ministry said in a statement.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je also welcomed Pelosi’s visit, but warned that the self-governing island should not be “between a rock and a hard place” in US-China relations.

“Taiwan should keep its agency. We are friends with the US and Japan, and we don’t need to have a bad relationship with China,” Koh said in a statement. “Taiwan is between the US and China. We must maintain an open channel of communication with China and the US in order to effectively avoid crises.”

Pelosi to meet Taiwan president on Wednesday

The Speaker of the House is expected to visit Taiwan’s presidential office and parliament on Wednesday morning (local time), a senior Taiwanese official told CNN. According to the official, she will first visit the parliament and then go to the president’s office to meet with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

Pelosi is expected to leave Taiwan later Wednesday, according to a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry. The official is not authorized to speak about Pelosi’s travel plans, which have not been made public.

Pelosi is traveling with Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks of New York, Veterans Affairs Chairman Mark Takano of California and representatives. Susan Delbene of Washington State, Raja Krishnamurti of Illinois and Andy Kim of New Jersey.

The American Institute in Taiwan said a Pelosi delegation will meet with senior Taiwanese 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.” . issues of mutual interest.

Pelosi wrote article it was published in The Washington Post after she landed on Tuesday, claiming her trip showed US commitment to China-threatened Taiwan. “In the face of mounting Chinese Communist Party aggression, the visit of our congressional delegation should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our Democratic partner, defending itself and its freedom,” the California Democrat wrote.

Pelosi’s stop in Taiwan was not listed on her Asia itinerary in Congress, but the stop had been discussed for weeks leading up to her trip. The possible shutdown prompted warnings from China as well as the Biden administration, which briefed the speaker on the risks of visiting the democratic self-governing island that China claims to own.

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

The White House said on Tuesday that Pelosi’s trip was in line with US policy on Taiwan and that the US would closely monitor China’s actions after Pelosi’s departure.

“Obviously we will be watching this closely. There is no reason for this visit to be a trigger for crisis or conflict, or a pretext for the Chinese to try to spur some kind of military action, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said Tuesday on CNN’s “This an hour with Kate Baldwin.

“Of course, we’re concerned about that, so an integral part of her trip is to reaffirm the United States’ commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan defend itself,” Kirby added. “Again, there is no reason for this to escalate into a conflict. There are no changes in our policy. It absolutely suits her. And we’ll just watch the developments.”

Bipartisan Praise

A group of more than two dozen Senate Republicans, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, issued a statement in support of Pelosi’s all-Democrat congressional delegation landing in Taiwan.

“We support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan,” the Republicans said. “For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House of Representatives, have traveled to Taiwan. This trip is in line with the One China policy of the United States, to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Law.”

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

“It was indecent and counterproductive for President Biden and his aides to publicly try to keep her from doing this,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I welcome the speaker’s show of support for Taiwanese democracy, but I hope she comes back from Asia more aware of the military aspects of the Chinese threat and more committed to working with the Republicans to rebalance military power in the region. “

Analysis: Pelosi's expected visit to Taiwan risks increasing US-China instability

U.S. President Joe Biden publicly said ahead of Pelosi’s trip that the U.S. military doesn’t think this is the right time for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, but he didn’t directly tell her not to go, two sources previously told CNN.

Biden did not speak to Pelosi ahead of her trip, Kirby said Tuesday.

The issue of Taiwan remains one of the most contentious in US-China relations. Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed this 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 convention. Chinese party officials are expected to begin laying the groundwork for this conference in the coming weeks by pressuring the leadership in Beijing to show strength.

While Biden did not support Pelosi’s visit, U.S. officials believe that the Chinese leadership may confuse the House Speaker’s trip with an official administration visit, and they are concerned that China is not separating Pelosi from Biden, if at all, since both are Democrats.

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

This story has been supplemented with additional events.

Wayne Chang of CNN, Sean Deng, Yong Xiong, Hannah Ritchie, Kristin Wilson, Betsy Klein, Kylie Atwood, Alex Rogers, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.