US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leaders meet in Taiwan Despite warnings from China, she said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation were showing they would not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.
“Today the world is faced with a choice between democracy and authoritarianism,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains unyielding.”
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any involvement of Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises across the island and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation arrived in the Taiwanese capital Taipei on Tuesday evening.
Pelosi’s trip has increased tensions between the United States and China more than other members of Congress because of her high-ranking position as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first home speaker to come to Taiwan in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Tsai thanked Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan and presented the speaker with a civilian honor, the Order of Favorable Clouds. She was more focused on Chinese threats in her remarks than Pelosi was.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and accepts the Order of Pro-Clouds with a special Grand Cordon, a symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship with Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/ODIdq8n6Mv
– recount (therecount) August 3, 2022
“Faced with deliberately increasing military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said. “We will resolutely defend our nation’s sovereignty and will continue to uphold the line of defense of democracy.” Shortly after Pelosi’s landing, China announced live-fire exercises to begin Tuesday night and four-day drills to begin Thursday in waters on all sides of the island.
The Chinese Air Force has also flown a relatively large group of 21 warplanes, including fighter jets, towards Taiwan.
Pelosi noted that Taiwan’s bipartisan support in Congress and praised democracy on the island.
Her focus has always been the same, she said, returning to her 1991 visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when she and other lawmakers raised a small banner supporting democracy, two years after a bloody military crackdown against protesters in the square.
That visit was also about human rights and what she described as the dangerous transfer of technology to “rogue states”.
Pelosi is visiting a human rights museum in Taipei later Wednesday before leaving for South Korea, the next stop on an Asian 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 the Taiwan legislature.
“The visit of the President to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of upholding human rights and consolidating the values of democracy and freedom,” said Tsai Chi-chang, vice-chairwoman of the Legislative Council of Taiwan.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to tone down the scale of the visit, insisting there is no change to the long-standing US “one China policy”, which recognizes Beijing but allows informal and defense ties with Taipei.
Pelosi said her delegation had “heavyties,” including Gregory Mix, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamurthy of the House Intelligence Committee.
Also reported was Representative Susan Delbiny, who Pelosi said was instrumental in passing a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting US manufacturing and research in semiconductor chips — an industry in which Taiwan dominates the importance of modern electronics.
Representatives Andy Kim and Mark Takano are also on the delegation.