Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night in the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in decades, defying the threat of a military response from China.
The U.S. House Speaker’s visit was a test of how far the Chinese government would deter foreign aid. Taiwan and the ability of China and the United States to manage their increasingly strained relationship.
Shortly after landing in Taipei, Pelosi Her visit “celebrates America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy… The world faces a choice between dictatorship and democracy.”
China’s foreign ministry said Pelosi’s visit “seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and would have a “serious impact” on Sino-U.S. relations.
Pelosi is the most senior US official to visit Taiwan while in office since one of her predecessors, Newt Gingrich, in 1997. If Pelosi dares to visit, sit idly by.
The People’s Liberation Army conducted air and sea exercises in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi’s touchdown on Tuesday. series of military exercises in other coastal areas.
Beijing said Tuesday night it was launching military exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit.
“From the evening of August 2, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will launch a series of joint military operations,” the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.
It added that joint air-sea exercises will be conducted in the waters and airspace to the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan, and that the Chinese military will also conduct long-range live-fire exercises in the waters of the Taiwan Strait and eastern Taiwan. coast.
“These operations are intended as a severe deterrent against a serious increase in negative movements from the United States on the Taiwan issue and as a stern warning to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces colluding for ‘independence,'” the commander said. department said.
Separately, the official Xinhua News Agency said further joint air and sea exercises would take place in six different regions around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday after Pelosi’s departure.
It was not immediately possible to confirm whether the PLA had launched any of the operations that command said were imminent. China often claims that it has conducted military operations near Taiwan, something Taipei denies.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said Beijing’s move to declare live-fire training areas in various areas around the island is aimed at threatening the country’s major ports and urban areas and unilaterally undermining regional peace and stability. said.
“This move does not serve China’s international image and hurts the feelings of people on both sides of the strait,” the defense ministry said.
“China’s warmongering moves are clearly aimed at psychologically intimidating its citizens,” it added.
The U.S. Air Force plane carrying Pelosi and her delegation did not fly directly from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei last time, but made a detour via Borneo and the Philippines.
Meir Nowens, a PLA expert at the think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, said US forces may have avoided airspace over the South China Sea, claimed by China and increasingly militarized. Missiles on artificial islands that can pose a danger to aircraft.
Hours before Pelosi’s arrival, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that the United States had caused trouble and had “hollowed out” the “one China” policy, which acknowledged Beijing’s view that Taiwan is part of China. accused of being
China has threatened to invade Taipei if it refuses to submit to its rule indefinitely, but some military experts say Beijing’s military posture is not relevant to its imminent invasion plans. They claim China and the US are determined to avoid escalation.
Pelosi flew to Taiwan over the objections of the White House, who argued her visit would unnecessarily heighten tensions with Beijing, which were already very high.
In public, White House officials have stressed that Congress is an independent arm of the U.S. government, so Ms Pelosi has the right to make her own travel decisions. For several weeks, they sent several senior officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, to try to persuade them not to travel to Taiwan by presenting them with potential visit risks.
Before landing in Taipei, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday warned China not to take any escalating action in response to Mr Pelosi’s visit.
The White House said there were signs that China was preparing a military response that could include launching missiles into the Taiwan Strait for the first time since the last major Taiwan crisis in 1995-96.
But despite analysts’ earlier suggestions that Pelosi could keep the moratorium brief and low-key to avoid further escalation of tensions with China, she is staying the night and said Wednesday has a complete program for her.
In the morning, Pelosi will visit Taiwan’s National Assembly and meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, followed by lunch at the Taipei State Guest House, a Japanese-era residence that houses high-ranking officials visited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a visit to the Human Rights Monument. increase.
Then her visit will get more attention than Gingrich, who stayed for only a few hours 25 years ago.
“The Chinese are always trying to undermine precedent, but if we are to prevent our international space from being further squeezed, it must be pushed back and defended,” said Taiwan’s representative office in Washington.
The Taiwanese government is torn between fears of a military aggression by China and that canceling Pelosi’s visit under Chinese pressure will intensify Beijing’s quest to unify Taiwan. increase. “This put us in a very awkward position,” the official said.
But Pelosi’s insistence on travel cheered many Taiwanese.
“No one has the right to say whether House Speaker Pelosi ‘should’ come to Taiwan. Only she can decide and she should not feel threatened,” Korath Yotaka, a former presidential office spokesperson who is running for local elections later this year, wrote on Twitter.
“I look forward to her visit. It makes us feel less isolated and makes us believe that there are still people who stand by their beliefs and ideals.”