US House Speaker Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, challenging Beijing

In this still image from video, United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night despite threats from Beijing to serious consequences, becoming the highest ranked American. official to visit the self-governing island claimed by China in 25 years. AP/PTI(AP08_02_2022_000334B)

Taipei, August 2 (PTI/AP): US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night despite threats of serious consequences from Beijing, becoming the highest ranking US official in 25 years to visit the self-governing island claimed by China.

Pelosi’s visit sparked heightened tension between China and the United States. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

China had warned of resolute and strong action if Pelosi continued on his journey. Shortly after Pelosi’s arrival, China’s official Xinhua news agency said his military would conduct live-fire drills from Thursday to Sunday at several locations in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

The Biden administration did not explicitly urge Pelosi to cancel the visit, while seeking to assure Beijing that it would not signal any change in US policy on Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal on the Taiwan issue was ruining its national credibility.

Some American politicians are playing with fire on the Taiwan issue,” Wang said in a statement. It certainly won’t have a good outcome… the exposure of America’s intimidating face shows it again as the world’s greatest peace saboteur.

Pelosi said in a statement shortly after arriving that the US delegation’s visit honors the United States’ unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.

Our visit is one of many congressional delegations to Taiwan — and that in no way contradicts longstanding US policy, she said.

The plane carrying Pelosi and his delegation left Malaysia earlier on Tuesday after a brief stopover that included a working lunch with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry had declined to say whether Pelosi would surrender. The trip was not officially announced in advance.

Barricades were erected outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in Taipei where Pelosi was to stay amid tight security. Two buildings in the capital lit up LED screens with words of welcome, including the iconic Taipei 101 building, which read Welcome to Taiwan, President Pelosi.

China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned against retaliation for Pelosi’s visit, saying its military will never stand idly by.

The United States and Taiwan agreed to make provocations first, and China was only forced to act in self-defense, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters on Tuesday. foreign Hua Chunying in Beijing.

Hua said China was in constant communication with the United States and made it clear how dangerous it would be if the visit went ahead. Any countermeasures taken by China will be justified and necessary “in the face of Washington’s unscrupulous behavior”, she said.

Shortly after Pelosi’s arrival, a representative of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Legislature released a statement saying the trip seriously violated the One China Principle, which is Beijing’s claim to be the sole government of the Mainland China and Taiwan.

Ahead of his arrival, unspecified hackers launched a cyberattack on the Taiwanese presidential office website, rendering it temporarily unavailable on Tuesday evening. The presidential office said the website was restored soon after the attack, overwhelming it with traffic.

China believes that by launching a multi-field pressure campaign against Taiwan, the Taiwanese people will be intimidated. But they are wrong, Wang Ting-yu, a Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker, said on Twitter in response to the attack.

China’s military threats have raised fears of a new crisis in the 100-mile (140 kilometer) wide Taiwan Strait that could upend global markets and supply chains.

The White House on Monday denounced Beijing’s rhetoric, saying the United States had no interest in deepening tensions with China and would not take the bait or engage in saber-rattling. .

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stressed that the decision to travel to Taiwan ultimately rests with Pelosi. He noted that members of Congress have regularly visited the island over the years.

Kirby said administration officials are concerned that Beijing could use the visit as an excuse to take provocative retaliatory measures, including military actions such as firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan, or aerial sorties in the island’s airspace and large-scale naval operations. exercises in the strait.

Simply put, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit in line with long-standing US policy into some kind of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the strait. from Taiwan, Kirby said.

US officials said the US military would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region during Pelosi’s visit. The US Navy 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 to discuss the military operations.

The Reagan, the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins left Singapore after a port call and moved north to their home port in Japan. The carrier has a range of aircraft, including F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters, as well as sophisticated radar systems and other weapons.

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. The United States maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan even though it recognizes Beijing as the government of China.

Beijing sees official US contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi, head of one of the three branches of the US government, is the highest elected US official to visit Taiwan since President Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Flight tracking site Flightradar24 said Pelosi’s plane, a US Air Force Boeing C-40C, was the most watched in the world on Tuesday night with 300,000 viewers. The plane took a circuitous route, flying east over Indonesia rather than directly over the South China Sea.

Pelosi used his position in the US Congress as America’s envoy on the world stage. She has long challenged China on human rights, including in 2009 when she hand-delivered a letter to then-President Hu Jintao calling for the release of political prisoners. She had sought to visit Taiwan’s island democracy earlier this year before testing positive for COVID-19.

Pelosi kicked off her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday as her possible visit to Taiwan sparked concerns in the region.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security during talks with Pelosi, the city-state’s foreign ministry said. This was echoed by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Tokyo, who said stable ties between the two rival powers are also extremely important to the international community.

The Philippines urged the United States and China to be responsible players” in the region. It is important that the United States and China maintain ongoing communication to avoid miscalculations and further escalation of tensions,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Teresita Daza said.

China has steadily increased diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. China cut off all contact with the Taiwanese government in 2016 after President Tsai Ing-wen refused to endorse his claim that the island and mainland together form a single Chinese nation, with the communist regime in Beijing the only one. legitimate government.

Pelosi is due to travel to Japan and South Korea later this week.

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