Baltimore Sun

Pelosi visits Taiwan, defies Beijing

China announces maneuvers by its military in response

- By Huizhong Wu and Eileen Ng

TAIPEI, Taiwan — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China, which quickly announced that it would conduct military maneuvers in retaliatio­n for her presence.

Pelosi arrived aboard a U.S. Air Force passenger jet and was greeted on the tarmac at Taipei’s internatio­nal airport by Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and other Taiwanese and American officials. She posed for photos before her motorcade whisked her unseen into the parking garage of a hotel.

Her visit has ratcheted up tension between China and the United States because China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and it views visits by foreign government officials as recognitio­n of the island’s sovereignt­y.

The Biden administra­tion, and Pelosi, D-Calif., say the United States remains committed to its “one China policy,” which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

The speaker framed the trip as part of a broader mission as “the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” Her visit comes after she led a congressio­nal delegation to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the spring, and it serves as a capstone to her years of promoting democracy abroad.

“We must stand by Taiwan,” she said in an opinion piece published by The

Washington Post. She cited the commitment that the U.S. made to a democratic Taiwan under a 1979 law.

“It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats,” she wrote.

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory and has not ruled out using military force to take it.

The Biden administra­tion did not explicitly urge Pelosi to call off her plans. It repeatedly and publicly assured Beijing that the visit would not signal any change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

Soon after Pelosi’s arrival, China announced a series of military operations and drills, which followed promises of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went

through with her visit.

The People’s Liberation Army said the maneuvers would take place starting Tuesday night in the waters and skies near Taiwan and include the firing of longrange ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.

“This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independen­ce’ forces seeking ‘independen­ce.’ ”

China’s official Xinhua News said the army planned to conduct live-fire drills from Thursday to Sunday across multiple locations. An image released by the news agency indicated that the drills were to take place in six areas in the waters surroundin­g Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankruptin­g its national credibilit­y.”

“Some American politician­s are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan,” Wang said in a statement that referred to the U.S. as “the world’s biggest saboteur of peace.”

Back in the United States, 26 Republican lawmakers issued a statement of rare bipartisan support for the Democratic speaker. The statement called trips by members of Congress to Taiwan routine.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he backed Pelosi’s visit as a display of support for Taiwan’s democracy and said any allegation­s that her itinerary was provocativ­e are “utterly

absurd.”

“I believe she has every right to go,” McConnell said in a Senate speech.

The trip was not officially announced ahead of time.

Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei. Journalist­s and onlookers thronged the streets just outside and pressed against the hotel’s lobby windows as they awaited Pelosi’s motorcade. Two buildings in the capital lit up LED displays with words of welcome, including the iconic Taipei 101 building.

China has stepped up overflight­s and other provocativ­e moves toward Taiwan and other neighborin­g territory in recent years, asserting broad claims of its rights around the region.

White House National Security Council spokespers­on

John Kirby underscore­d that the decision about whether to visit Taiwan was ultimately Pelosi’s.

“Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstandi­ng U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.

U.S. officials have said the American military will increase its movements in the Indo-Pacific region during Pelosi’s visit. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were in the Philippine Sea on Monday, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi kicked off her Asian tour Monday in Singapore. She is to travel to Japan and South Korea later this week.

 ?? TAIWAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ?? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is greeted at the airport by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, left, after her arrival Tuesday night in Taipei. China has announced retaliator­y measures for her visit.
TAIWAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is greeted at the airport by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, left, after her arrival Tuesday night in Taipei. China has announced retaliator­y measures for her visit.

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