October 6, 2022

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meeting with leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in visiting delegation show that they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing 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 arrived Tuesday night in the Taiwanese capital , Taipei.

Taiwan denounced the planned actions.

“Such an act is tantamount to sealing off Taiwan from air and sea … and seriously violates our country’s territorial sovereignty,” Capt. Jian-chang Yu said at a Ministry of National Defense media briefing on Wednesday morning.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen meet in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday.  Pelosi is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen meet in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday. Pelosi is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years.

Taiwan Presidential Office via Associated Press

Pelosi’s journey has increased US-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high status as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years, since then 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.

“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.”

Tsai later told 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 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 addressed Beijing’s threats, saying she hoped it was clear “while China has stood in the way of Taiwan going to some meetings, they understand that they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a sign of friendship and support.” “

Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island’s democracy. He stopped short of saying the US would defend Taiwan militarily, stressing that Congress is “committed to Taiwan’s security so that Taiwan can defend itself more 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 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 visits a human rights museum in Taipei detailing the island’s martial law-era history 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 volume of the visit, insisting there is no change in the long-standing US “One China Policy”, which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation has “stepped up,” 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 getting a $280 billion bill passed aimed at strengthening American manufacturing and semiconductor chip research — an industry dominated by Taiwan that is vital to modern electronics.

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

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