Pelosi praises Taiwan’s independent society as China conducts military exercises, sparking outrage

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office in Taipei on August 3, 2022. — Reuters
  • Pelosi arrived in Taipei on an unannounced but closely watched visit.
  • She says the visit demonstrates America’s unwavering commitment to Taiwan’s democracy.
  • China has strongly condemned the high-level US visit.

TAIPEI: China strongly condemned the highest US visit to Taiwan in 25 years as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the self-proclaimed island “one of the freest societies in the world” in a speech to parliament in Taipei on Wednesday. .

Beijing expressed its anger with Pelosi’s presence on an island it says is part of China and military activity in surrounding waters, summoning the US ambassador to Beijing, and several from Taiwan. It has announced suspension of agricultural imports.

Pelosi arrived in Taipei late Tuesday on an unannounced but closely-watched trip, which she said showed American commitment to Taiwan’s democracy.

In a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, Pelosi praised President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects is pushing for formal independence — a red line for China.

“We thank you for your leadership. We want the world to recognize it,” Pelosi said, while also calling for increased inter-parliamentary cooperation.

Pelosi added that the new US legislation aimed at strengthening the US chip industry to compete with China “provides greater opportunities for US-Taiwan economic cooperation.”

Now more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is critical, Pelosi told Tsai, adding that America’s commitment to upholding democracy in Taiwan and the rest of the world remains ironclad. Read more

She was also scheduled to meet human rights activists later in the day.

The last House Speaker to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997. But Pelosi’s visit comes amid a sharp deterioration in Sino-US relations, and China has emerged as a far more powerful economic, military and geopolitical force over the past quarter-century.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has never shied away from using force to bring it under its control. The US warned China not to use the visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

Earlier on Wednesday, China’s customs department announced the suspension of imports of citrus fruits, frozen whiting and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan, while its commerce ministry suspended exports of natural sand to Taiwan.

A longtime critic of China, particularly on human rights, Pelosi was scheduled to meet later Wednesday with a former Tiananmen activist, a Hong Kong bookseller who was detained by China and recently From a Taiwanese activist released by China, people were aware of the issue. said.

Military exercises.

Shortly after Pelosi’s arrival, China’s military announced joint air and sea exercises near Taiwan and tests of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported live around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday. Explained fire drills and other exercises.

China’s foreign ministry said Pelosi’s visit seriously harms peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “causing severe impacts on the political foundation of China-US relations and gravely infringing on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Before Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday, Chinese warplanes buzzed the dividing line across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese military said it was on high alert and would launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s visit.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said after Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday that the United States is “not afraid” of China’s threats or belligerent rhetoric and that there is no reason to expect a crisis or conflict from her visit. Giving birth.

Kirby later said at a White House briefing, “We will continue to support Taiwan, defend a free and independent Indo-Pacific and seek to maintain contact with Beijing.

Kirby said China could engage in “economic coercion” toward Taiwan, adding that the impact on U.S.-Chinese relations would depend on Beijing’s actions in the coming days and weeks.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is obligated under US law to provide it with the means of self-defense. China sees the US official’s visit to Taiwan as an encouraging sign for the island’s pro-independence camp. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

Taiwan’s cabinet said Wednesday that the military has raised its alert level. The island’s defense ministry said 21 Chinese planes entered its air defense identification zone on Tuesday and that China was trying to threaten key ports and cities through exercises in the surrounding waters.

“The so-called drill areas are coming into the busiest international channels in the Indo-Pacific region,” said a senior Taiwanese official familiar with security planning. Reuters on Wednesday.

“We can see China’s ambitions: to make the Taiwan Strait non-international waters, as well as to assert its influence over the entire area west of the first island chain in the western Pacific,” the person said. said

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference that the government had informed China of its reservations over military action, and reiterated that Japan hoped the Taiwan Strait issues could be resolved through dialogue. will