TAIPEI, Taiwan (UKTN) — US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who met leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said on Wednesday that she and other members of Congress showed in a visiting delegation their commitment to self-governing island will not give up.
“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains rock solid.”
China, claiming Taiwan as its territory and opposing any involvement of Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises around the island and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation landed in Taiwan’s capital Taipei on Tuesday evening.
Taiwan denounced the planned actions.
“Such an act is tantamount to shielding Taiwan by air and sea…and constitutes a grave violation of our country’s territorial sovereignty,” said Captain Jian-chang Yu at the National Defense Ministry’s media briefing Wednesday morning. .
Pelosi’s trip has fueled tensions between the US and China more than visits from other members of Congress due to her high position as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Tsai, who thanked Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a civilian honor, the Order of the Favorable Clouds.
“Faced with deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not flinch,” Tsai said. “We will firmly maintain our nation’s sovereignty and continue to maintain the line of defense for democracy.”
Tsai later said at a press conference, “Military exercises are unnecessary responses.”
Shortly after Pelosi landed, China announced live fire drills that reportedly began Tuesday night, as well as a four-day drill that began Thursday in waters on all sides of the island.
The Chinese Air Force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 warplanes, including fighter jets, to Taiwan.
Pelosi addressed Beijing’s threats, saying she hopes it’s clear “although China has prevented Taiwan from going to certain rallies, they understand they won’t stand in the way of people who come to Taiwan as a token of friendship and support. ”
Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is twofold in Congress and praised the island’s democracy. She stopped saying the US would defend Taiwan militarily, stressing that Congress is “committed to Taiwan’s security so that Taiwan can defend itself most effectively.”
Her focus has always been the same, she said, going back to her 1991 visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when she and other lawmakers unfurled a small banner supporting democracy, two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.
That visit was also about human rights and what she called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue countries.”
Pelosi visits a human rights museum in Taipei later Wednesday detailing the history of martial law on the island before heading to South Korea, the next stop on an Asia tour that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Pelosi, who is leading the trip with five other members of Congress, met with representatives of Taiwan’s legislature earlier Wednesday.
“The visit of Madam President to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of the enforcement of human rights and the consolidation of the values of democracy and freedom,” said Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan. legislature, welcome.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to dampen the volume of the visit, stressing that there will be no change to America’s long-standing “one China policy,” which Beijing recognizes, but informal and defense relations with Taipei allows.
Pelosi said her delegation is “fierce”, which includes Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of the House Intelligence Committee.
She also named Representative Suzan DelBene, who Pelosi said was instrumental in passing a $280 billion bill intended to boost U.S. manufacturing and research in semiconductor chips — an industry in which Taiwan dominates and which is vital. importance for modern electronics.
Representatives Andy Kim and Mark Takano are also in the delegation.