U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Asia even though Biden was against the trip, and she went toe to toe with China in her support of Taiwan.
Pelosi said that she and other members of Congress showed that they will not abandon their commitment to the the self-governing island of Taiwan.
The Speaker is the first in that office to visit the island in more than 25 years. And Beijing was not happy about the trip. There was more than a week of debate over whether it was a good idea when the trip was announced.
On the island, the Speaker remained defiant.
While meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi gave a short speech.
“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”
China claims Taiwan as its territory and is in opposition to any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments. They announced multiple military exercises around the island and China issued a series of angry statements when Pelosi’s delegation was on the ground Tuesday night in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
“Such an act equals to sealing off Taiwan by air and sea … and severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty,” said Capt. Jian-chang Yu said at the National Defense Ministry’s media briefing Wednesday morning.
China will set off military exercises that include live fire on Thursday. It will be the largest aimed at Taiwan since 1995. That year they fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show their contempt at a visit by the Taiwanese president to the United State.
Taiwan Not Backing Down From China
Tsai responded to Beijing’s military intimidation by saying, “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down. We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”
Officials from the Chinese News Agency released a map outlining the military actions around six different areas close to Taiwan. Arthur Zhen-Sheng Wang is a defense studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University. He said three of the areas infringe on Taiwanese waters, meaning they are within 12 nautical miles of the island’s shore.
Wang indicated that China’s plan to use live fire that is close to the shoreline could be seen as an act of war according to international rules of engagement.
State broadcaster CCTV published images and videos of Chinese PLA drills Wednesday. It was unclear where they were being conducted.
On Wednesday, China also banned some imports from Taiwan, including citrus fruit and fish.
“Facing deliberately heightened military threats , Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said. “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”
Relations between the United States and China have already been tense, and Pelosi’s trip heightened that. She is the first speaker of the House to come to Taiwan since Newt Gingrich went in 1997.
Pelosi was given a civilian honor called the Order of the Propitious Clouds because of decades of support for Taiwan.
She addressed the tension with China saying she hoped it was clear that “while China has stood in the way of Taiwan going to certain meetings, that they understand they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and of support.”
Pelosi also noted that support for Taiwan is from Democrats and Republicans in America and she praised the Island’s commitment to democracy.
She did not say that the United States would defend Taiwan if China engages in military action.
Nancy even makes waves across the oceans.