Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) has reportedly arrived in Taiwan amid threats of retaliation from the Chinese Communist Party.
A plane reportedly carrying the House speaker touched down on the island of Taiwan on Tuesday, Fox News reported. She is the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich’s 1997 visit — an island that China considers its territory — and her visit has prompted China to increase military activity in both the sea and air around Taiwan.
“Our Congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement issued upon her arrival.
“Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Indo-Pacific — including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance,” she added.
“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.
The speaker of the house noted that her visit is one of “several Congressional delegations to Taiwan,” noting that it “in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy.”
“The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo,” she added.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly warned against the visit, and during a Thursday phone call, Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden that the United States must not “play with fire.”
“Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this,” the Chinese president said, Fox reported.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also warned in mid July that any visit would “seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” adding, “If the U.S. side obstinately clings to this course, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”
Biden told reporters on July 20 that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now” for Pelosi to head to Taiwan. But on Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby pushed back against the suggestion that Pelosi was urged not to go, before saying, “The speaker makes her own decisions.”
FLASHBACK: Pentagon Press Sec John Kirby said today: "I don't know that [Pelosi] was urged not to go" to Taiwan.
On July 20, Biden said "it's not a good idea" for Pelosi to go. pic.twitter.com/HbI1Wcv9gK
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) August 1, 2022
Her trip has sparked concerns of Chinese aggression — Reuters reported Tuesday morning tha Taiwan is reportedly preparing air-raid shelters where people can seek refuge should China begin launching missiles.
“The response will almost certainly include a military component,” tweeted M. Taylor Fravel, who serves as director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “most likely with a show of force in the first instance—live fire exercises, a much greater military presence within the Taiwan Strait and esp across ‘the median line,’ even missile tests.”
“The response will also include economic and diplomatic actions, probably mostly targeting Taiwan,” he continued. “The response will likely unfold over days if not weeks, but likely start after Pelosi departs Taiwan. Unlike previous CODELs even earlier this year, China will do more than surge aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ for a day or two.”
“The goal will be to underscore resolve without sparking escalation,” he continued, “but the likely prominence to the military component will include the potential for miscalculation. There are also significant US naval assets in the region at the moment.”
Protesters reportedly waited outside Pelosi’s hotel with signs welcoming her or urging her to “scram.”
I'm standing outside the Grand Hyatt hotel near Taipei 101, where Nancy Pelosi is expected to stay tonight. There is a large crowd of onlookers, i'd say around 200, some of whom are holding signs either supporting or opposing Pelosi's visit. pic.twitter.com/Fe52KDDE0G
— B. Allen-Ebrahimian (@BethanyAllenEbr) August 2, 2022
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