BEIJING (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has drawn bipartisan support at home and support among the world’s democracies.
Meanwhile, China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory with no right to an independent identity, has gathered support among other authoritarian states. The divided opinions speak to both China’s growing global influence and the backlash it has provoked in the world’s liberal societies.
President Joe Biden’s administration has not openly supported Pelosi’s trip, with the president himself saying the military thought it was “not a good idea at this time” amid heightened tensions between the sides.
China responded to the visit by announcing a series of days-long military drills surrounding Taiwan and issuing a series of slurs targeting the US and Taiwanese governments, accusing them of colluding to undermine Chinese sovereignty and national security. China in 2016 severed contacts with Taiwan’s pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen over her refusal to back her insistence that the island and mainland are part of a single Chinese nation.
“This action is a serious deterrent against the recent major escalation of the United States’ negative actions on the Taiwan issue and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces seeking ‘independence,'” the Eastern Theater Command said in a statement. People’s Liberation Army. in a statement on Tuesday.
The drills will include air and sea exercises and long-range missile targeting, the statement said. Carriers are already preparing for disruptions in civil aviation and commercial shipping.
The Chinese response sparked fears of a new crisis in the Taiwan Straits, similar to the one in 1995-96, when China conducted threatening military exercises and confined the island with missile attacks in waters north and south of its main ports. Despite the sides splitting amid civil war more than 70 years ago, China has maintained its threat of invasion and massively increased its capabilities through investments in its missiles, navy ships and air force.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, whose country’s ties to China have soured in recent years, declined to comment specifically on Pelosi’s visit on Wednesday. However, he noted: “We live in an era where strategic competition and increased tension in our region and where China has taken a more aggressive stance in the region.”
“But our position on Taiwan is clear,” he added. “We do not want to see any unilateral change to the status quo and will continue to work with partners to promote peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also declined to comment on Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but expressed concern about China’s planned live-fire military exercises in the territorial seas that enclose parts of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Matsuno said Japan has conveyed Tokyo’s “concerns” to Beijing about the exercise.
“The peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits are important not only to Japan’s national security but also to the international community, and Japan’s position is that we expect the issues surrounding Taiwan to be resolved peacefully through dialogue,” Matsuno said. .
China’s ally North Korea, meanwhile, used the visit to accuse the US of being “the root cause of disturbed peace and security in the region” and said it supported Beijing in the standoff over Pelosi’s visit.
“We strongly denounce any foreign power’s interference in the Taiwan issue and fully support the Chinese government’s righteous stance to resolutely defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a government spokesman was quoted as saying. “The US plan to disrupt China’s growth and development and its efforts to achieve the goal of reunification is bound to fail.”
Russia – another Chinese ally and whose invasion of Ukraine has fueled concerns about China’s own threat to annex Taiwan by force – called the visit “a clear provocation, which is in line with the aggressive policy of the United States with the aim of completely containing China”.
Beijing “has the right to take measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in relation to the Taiwan issue,” the government said in a statement. China and Russia have closely aligned their foreign policies in recent years, with Moscow backing China over Taiwan and Beijing refusing to criticize Russia for invading Ukraine while accusing the US and NATO of provoking the conflict and impose punitive economic sanctions against Russia.
Pelosi has made criticism of China and support for Taiwan a key focus of her more than three decades in Congress.
Speaking at a meeting with Tsai on Wednesday, she said: “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy.”
“America’s resolve to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad,” Pelosi said.
After Taiwan, he is scheduled to visit South Korea and Japan, both important US security partners in Asia.