By Agencies and published by CNA
Taipei – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday (Aug. 2) as part of an ongoing Asia tour.
It is the highest-profile visit by a US official to the island in 25 years.
Images showed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who flew in on a US military aircraft into Taipei’s Songshan Airport, being greeted on arrival by Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu.
Pelosi said in a tweet at 11 p.m. local time that her delegation’s visit to Taiwan “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy”.
She added that the US continues to oppose “unilateral efforts to change the status quo”.
Pelosi said her trip “in no way” contradicted official US policy, which recognises “one China” and has not officially recognised Taiwan as an independent state.
The visit is part of a broader trip to the Indo-Pacific including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing.
The trip is focused on “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance”.
“Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“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,” she said.
Taiwan’s Presidential Office said President Tsai Ing-Wen will meet Pelosi on Wednesday morning before having lunch with her.
“Gravely undermines peace”
China’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that the visit “gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
China’s military also vowed to launch “targeted military actions”.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter this, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely thwart external interference and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist attempts,” defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement condemning the visit.
White House spokesman John Kirby rejected Beijing’s sharp criticism of the visit, saying it was not the first by a US lawmaker to Taiwan.
“There’s no violation of any sovereignty issues here,” Kirby told CNN shortly after Pelosi stepped onto Taiwan soil.
“There is no reason for this to erupt into conflict. There’s no change to our policy. This is absolutely consistent with it.”
The prospect of a stop in Taipei had triggered warnings from Beijing that have set the region on edge, with China warning earlier on Tuesday that the US will “pay the price” if Pelosi visits Taiwan.
“The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China’s sovereign security interests,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if necessary.
Pelosi is second in the line of succession to the US presidency and a long-time critic of China.
China views visits by US officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
Before Pelosi’s visit, Chinese planes have reportedly been flying close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait.
A source told Reuters that Chinese aircraft repeatedly conducted tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait on Tuesday morning, while Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby.
Top: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation to Taiwan on Aug. 2, 2022. Photo: Twitter/SpeakerPelosi
First insert: Supporters hold a banner outside the hotel where US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supposed to be staying in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Photo: AP/Chiang Ying-Ying and published by Marketwatch.com
Front Page: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taipei, Taiwan on Aug. 2, 2022. Photo: AP/Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs