Pelosi says U.S. won’t abandon Taiwan over China protests

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who defied China’s warnings to meet with Taiwan’s leaders, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress made clear in a visiting delegation that they would not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

“The world today faces a choice between democracy and authoritarianism,” she said in a brief remarks at a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s resolve to uphold democracy in Taiwan and around the world remains unwavering.”

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any contact by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises in Taiwan and issued a series of stern statements after the delegation landed in Taiwan’s capital Taipei on Tuesday night.

Pelosi’s trip has increased U.S.-China tensions more than any other member of Congress because of her senior position as House leader. She is the first speaker of the House of Representatives to come to Taiwan in 25 years since Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Tsai Ing-wen thanked Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan and awarded the speaker the “Order of Lucky Clouds”. Compared with Pelosi, her threats to China were sharper in her remarks.

“Taiwan will not back down in the face of a deliberately intensified military threat,” Tsai Ing-wen said. “We will firmly defend our country’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense of democracy.”

Shortly after Pelosi’s landing, China announced it would begin live-fire drills on Tuesday night and begin four-day drills in the waters surrounding the island on Thursday.

The Chinese Air Force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 fighter jets, including fighter jets, to Taiwan.

Pelosi noted that Congress has bipartisan support for Taiwan and praised Taiwan’s democracy.

She said her focus has remained the same, dating back to her visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991, when she and other lawmakers unfurled a small pro-democracy banner two years after a bloody crackdown on protesters in the square. .

That visit also touched on human rights and what she described as the transfer of dangerous technology to “rogue states.”

Pelosi will visit a human rights museum in Taipei later on Wednesday before leaving for South Korea, the next stop on a tour of Asia that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

Pelosi, who led the visit along with five other members of Congress, met with representatives of Taiwan’s legislature earlier Wednesday.

“Ms. Speaker’s fearless visit to Taiwan is the strongest defense for safeguarding human rights and consolidating the values ​​of democracy and freedom,” said Tsai Chi-chang, deputy speaker of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, at the welcoming ceremony.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to dial down traffic, insisting there has been no change to the longstanding “One China policy” of the United States, which recognizes Beijing but allows for informal and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation had “weight” and included House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and House Intelligence Committee’s Raja Krishnamorty.

She also mentioned Rep. Suzan DelBene, who Pelosi said played a major role in passing a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing and research — an industry dominated by Taiwan and a threat to the modern era. Electronics are vital.

Representatives Andy Kim and Mark Takano were also on the delegation.

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