#Pelosi #defies #threats #China #lands #Taiwan
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night, defying a series of increasingly explicit warnings and threats from China that have escalated tensions between the world’s two superpowers.
Pelosi, second in line for the presidency, is the highest-profile US elected official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and Beijing has made it clear that it views her presence as a major provocation, stirring up excitement in the region.
Live broadcasts showed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who was flying on a US military plane, being greeted by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu at Taipei’s Songshan Airport.
“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan recognizes America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi’s official Twitter account tweeted shortly after her arrival.
She added her visit “in no way contradicts” US policy towards Taiwan and Beijing.
Pelosi is currently on an Asia tour, and while neither she nor her office have confirmed the Taipei visit, several US and Taiwanese media outlets have reported that it is on the horizon – sparking days of mounting anger from Beijing.
The People’s Liberation Army said it was on “high alert” and would “launch a series of targeted military actions” in response to the visit.
“Those who play with fire will perish,” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry added.
– No need for “crisis” –
China regards self-governing, democratic Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day conquer the island, by force if necessary.
It tries to keep Taiwan isolated on the world stage and opposes countries that have official exchanges with Taipei.
In a phone call with US President Joe Biden last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Washington not to “play with fire” on Taiwan.
While the Biden administration is reportedly opposed to a halt in Taiwan, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Pelosi has the right to go where she pleases.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit into some sort of crisis, consistent with longstanding US policy,” he told reporters.
The last speaker of the House of Representatives to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Kirby reiterated that US policy towards Taiwan is unchanged.
This means support for its self-governing government, while giving Beijing diplomatic recognition to Taipei and opposing a formal Taiwan declaration of independence or a violent Chinese takeover.
Moscow said it was “completely in solidarity with China” and called the prospect of Pelosi’s visit “pure provocation”.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic protection to the Kremlin by blowing up Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.
As Pelosi’s plane approached Taipei, Chinese state media said advanced Su-35 fighter jets crossed the Taiwan Strait. The brief report gave no details of the time or exact location of the crossing.
Taiwan’s military later released a statement denying that any Su-35s had crossed the Taiwan Strait.
– All eyes on Taiwan –
Pelosi left Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
So many people tracked the US military plane that was carrying them on FlightRadar that the site said some users experienced outages.
The plane took a detour that Beijing claims is eagerly avoiding the South China Sea before flying up the east coast of the Philippines.
Press access surrounding Pelosi has been severely restricted and limited to a handful or brief statements confirming meetings with officials.
Her itinerary includes stops in South Korea and Japan – but the prospect of a trip to Taiwan had dominated attention.
Prior to her arrival, Taipei’s government had remained silent about visiting, although local media published reports showing her presence was all but guaranteed.
The capital’s famous Taipei 101 skyscraper was lit up with the words “Speaker Pelosi… Thank You” on Tuesday night ahead of the arrival of their plane.
– ‘Attempts to punish Taiwan’ –
Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of invasion, but that threat has intensified under Xi, China’s most assertive ruler in a generation.
“Beijing should not decide who can visit Taiwan or how the US should interact with Taiwan,” Wang Ting-yu, an MP from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, told AFP ahead of the visit.
“I think China’s open intimidation is counterproductive.”
Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at US-based think tank German Marshall Fund, said the likelihood of Beijing deciding to go to war was “slim”.
“But the likelihood that … (China) will take a range of military, economic and diplomatic measures to show strength and determination is not insignificant,” she wrote on Twitter.
Taipei’s Agriculture Council said Tuesday China has suspended imports of some Taiwanese goods, including some fishery products, tea and honey. The council said China cited regulatory violations.
A spate of military activity across the region has preceded Pelosis’ potential visit, highlighting just how hot the Taiwan issue is.
Last week, both Taiwan and China held live fire drills.
#Pelosi #defies #threats #China #lands #Taiwan