The US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan this Tuesday, ignoring China’s repeated warnings that the trip will not remain without a response.
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was welcomed at the Songshan airport by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu this late Tuesday.
Upon arrival, 82-year-old Pelosi emphasized that her visit to Taiwan shows the US unconditional support for the island; “Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.” Pelosi wrote in a tweet, adding also that “our discussions with Taiwan leadership reaffirm our support for our partner & promote our shared interests, including advancing a free & open Indo-Pacific region.”
Pelosi then finished her initial remark after arrival in Taiwan by further provoking tensions with China as she noted that “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
In response to the controversial visit, Taiwan’s party of government, the Democratic Progressive party, issued a statement, admiring and respecting Pelosi’s “moral courage,” and asserting that “no threatening remarks or provocative actions can reduce even slightly the determination of Taiwan and its international friends to defend democracy and freedom.”
Pelosi is the first US Speaker of the House to visit Taiwan since 1997. That year, Newt Gingrich, who held the same title, visited the island.
China’s reaction to the provocative visit
Minutes after Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, China’s ministry of defense issued a warning statement, noting that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was put on “high alert” and was preparing for a series of targeted military operations, including missile tests in the waters east of Taiwan and drills encircling the main island for four days. China also summoned the US ambassador to Beijing to criticize Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan.
China, which regards Taiwan as its territory, had repeatedly warned during the recent days of retaliation for Pelosi’s possible visit from the island.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said earlier on Monday that it would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs” if Pelosi visits Taiwan, and warned that if done, the move would lead to “very serious developments and consequences” for Washington; “We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao added.
Shortly before Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese state media also reported that Beijing’s Su-35 fighter jets were flying across the Taiwan Strait. Most notably, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his American counterpart, Joe Biden, during a phone call last Thursday that Washington should abide by the One-China principle, otherwise, “those who play with fire will perish by it”.
Since coming to power last year in January, Biden has been focusing on countering China’s growing influence in East Asia and has formed US foreign policy around this important principle. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, despite several warnings from the part of China before it was done this Tuesday, can therefore be viewed as one major step forward in line with this new anti-China policy.
The Biden administration seems to hope that making such a provocative move and ignoring Beijing’s repeated warnings before the trip can contain China’s influence and it is worth it.
However, there is no guarantee that the move will not lead to a full-scale war between these two superpowers, and this is something that the US decision-makers seem to be ignoring.