October 4, 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meeting leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation were showing they would not abandon their commitment to the self-ruled island.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a brief speech during a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s resolve to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any involvement of Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises around the island and issued a series of tough statements after the delegation fell in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, on Tuesday night.

Pelosi’s trip has raised US-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-profile 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, thanking Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a political honor, the Order of Favorable Clouds. In her remarks, she was more vocal about Chinese threats than Pelosi.

“Faced with deliberately increased military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said. “We will steadfastly support our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Shortly after Pelosi landed, China announced live-fire drills to begin Tuesday night and a four-day exercise starting Thursday in waters on all sides of the island.

China’s Air Force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 warplanes, including fighter jets, to Taiwan.

Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island’s democracy.

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 pro-democracy banner, two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.

That visit also touched on human rights and what he called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue countries.”

Pelosi is visiting a human rights museum in Taipei later Wednesday before departing for 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 earlier Wednesday with representatives from Taiwan’s legislature.

“The lady president’s visit to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of the defense of human rights and the consolidation of the values ​​of democracy and freedom,” Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan’s legislature, said in a welcome speech. .

US President Joe Biden’s administration has tried to play down the scale of the visit, insisting there is no change to America’s longstanding “one China policy”, which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation has “a crowd,” including Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamurthy of the House Intelligence Committee.

He also mentioned Rep. Suzan DelBene, who Pelosi said was instrumental in passing a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting U.S. manufacturing and research into semiconductor chips — an industry dominated by Taiwan that is vital for modern electronics.

Also on the mission are representatives Andy Kim and Mark Takano.

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