Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan and escalates tension between the United States and China

Tuesday, August 02, 2022 | 4:01 p.m.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu upon arrival in Taipei. / Photo: AP

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu upon arrival in Taipei. / Photo: AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night, the highest-ranking U.S. elected official in the past 25 years to visit the Chinese-claimed island.

Pelosi’s visit has raised tensions between Beijing and Washington. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, which it will annex by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

China had warned that it would take “resolute and forceful action” if Pelosi made the trip. The administration of President Joe Biden did not explicitly encourage her to cancel it, but assured Beijing that it did not mean a change in US policy regarding Taiwan.

Before Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that Washington’s position on the Taiwan issue “is undermining its national credibility.”

“Certain American politicians are playing with fire on the Taiwan issue,” Wang said in a press release. “This will definitely not have a good ending… this exposes the United States as the abuser of the world and the biggest spoiler of world peace.”

Pelosi said in a statement shortly after her arrival that the US delegation’s visit “honors the United States’ unwavering commitment to support Taiwan’s burgeoning democracy.”

“Our visit is one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan, and in no way contradicts the long-standing position of the United States,” he added.

Pelosi’s plane with her delegation left Malaysia on Tuesday after a brief visit that included a working lunch with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

It was not initially clear where she was going, but Taiwanese media reported that Pelosi would arrive on Tuesday night. The three main Taiwanese newspapers – The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times – reported, citing anonymous sources, that she would spend the night in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang did not explicitly confirm Pelosi’s visit, but declared Tuesday that “every foreign guest and friendly lawmaker” are “fully welcome.”

There were barricades and heavy security in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei, where Pelosi is expected to stay.

Two buildings in the capital lit up LED banners with welcome phrases such as “Welcome to Taiwan, Speaker (of Congress) Pelosi” on the iconic Taiwan 101 building.

China, which considers Taiwan a rogue province that it will annex by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned of retaliation and that its military “will never sit idly by.”

“The United States and Taiwan have colluded to make provocations, and China has been forced to act in self-defense,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.

Hua said that China has been in constant communication with the United States and has clearly said “how dangerous it would be if the visit were to take place.” Any countermeasures China takes will be “justified and necessary” in the face of Washington’s “unscrupulous conduct,” she added.

Shortly before Pelosi’s expected arrival, Chinese state media said Chinese SU-35 fighter jets were “crossing” the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the mainland. At first it was not clear where they were going or what their plans were.

Unknown hackers launched a cyberattack on Taiwan’s presidential office, which was inaccessible on Tuesday night. The presidency said the site was back up and running shortly after the attack, which overwhelmed it with messages.

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