As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi praised Taiwan as “one of the freest societies in the world” and offered American support, China angrily denounced the highest-level American visit to the island in 25 years.
Beijing’s ire at Pelosi’s presence on an island it claims is a part of China was shown by a flurry of military action in the area’s waters, a summons to the American ambassador in Beijing, and the suspension of several Taiwanese agricultural shipments.
According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, some of China’s next military drills will take place within Taiwan’s 12 nautical mile air and sea territorial zone, an unprecedented step that a senior defence official described to reporters as “amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan.”
Pelosi defied China’s repeated warnings and landed in Taiwan late on Tuesday with a congressional delegation on an unannounced visit, which she said demonstrated the U.S.’s steadfast support to Taiwan’s democracy.
Pelosi said to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan.”
The message we are delivering here today is that America’s support with Taiwan is essential right now more than ever.
Speaking to the legislature, Pelosi said that recent American legislation “offers more chance for U.S.-Taiwan economic cooperation” by making the American chip sector more competitive with China.
“We appreciate your leadership. We want people to understand that, “Pelosi said Tsai, whom Beijing believes is attempting to push for formal independence, which is off-limits to China.
According to those with knowledge of the situation, Pelosi, a longtime opponent of China, particularly when it comes to human rights, was scheduled to meet with a former Tiananmen protester, a jailed Hong Kong bookseller, and a Taiwanese activist who had just been freed by China later on Wednesday.
In 1997, Newt Gingrich travelled to Taiwan as the final speaker of the US House. However, Pelosi’s trip takes place while Sino-U.S. ties are rapidly worsening, and over the past 25 years, China has grown to be a much more potent economic, military, and geopolitical powerhouse.
China has never abandoned using force to annex Taiwan and views it as a part of its territory. China was forewarned by the United States not to use the visit as justification for military action against Taiwan.
In reaction, China’s trade ministry forbade the shipment of natural sand to Taiwan, while its customs agency issued a halt of imports of citrus fruits, chilled white striped hairtail, and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan.
The most talked-about item on China’s severely regulated social media was Pelosi’s visit, which has been denounced in official Chinese news agencies. Users urged Beijing to attack the island in reprisal and expressed disappointment that military action had not been done to prevent her arrival. 22 million people viewed a live tracker of her jet on China’s WeChat.
Just prior to Pelosi’s arrival, China’s Twitter-like Weibo site collapsed, which Weibo attributed to overloaded internet bandwidth without naming Taiwan.
The Chinese military announced combined air and sea activities near Taiwan and the test launch of conventional missiles in the waters east of the island not long after Pelosi arrived. Chinese state news agency Xinhua described live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
According to China’s foreign ministry, Pelosi’s travel “has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. ties, gravely infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and seriously harms peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese fighter jets buzzed the boundary dividing the Taiwan Strait before Pelosi arrived. In reaction to Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military declared that it was on high alert and would begin “targeted military activities.”
After Pelosi arrived on Tuesday, White House spokesman for national security John Kirby said that the United States “is not going to be scared” by China’s threats or bellicose language and that there is no reason her presence should spark a crisis or conflict.
China may exert “economic coercion” against Taiwan, according to Kirby, who also said that the effect on U.S.-China ties will depend on Beijing’s actions in the ensuing days and weeks.