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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan defying China’s threat of ‘serious consequences’

Source : Moneycontrol

Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan defying China’s threat of ‘serious consequences’
Nancy Pelosi (centre) after landing in downtown Taipei, Taiwan, on August 2 (Image: Twitter/@SpeakerPelosi)


Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, landed in Taiwan on August 2, becoming the highest-ranked American official to visit the Chinese-claimed territory in the last 25 years.

Pelosi, along with a delegation of the US Congress, landed in Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei, where she was received by Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

A statement issued by Pelosi's office following her arrival underlined that the visit "honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy".

"Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  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," it added.

Pelosi proceeded on the visit to Taiwan despite China warning the United States of "serious consequences".

After the 82-year-old top American official landed in Taipei, Beijing's state-run media said the country will conduct a military drill encircling Taiwan from August 4 to 7.

"PLA will conduct important military exercises and training activities including live-fire drills in six regions surrounding the Taiwan island from Thursday to Sunday," stated the Global Timesa mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist party.

"No matter how people like Pelosi act to support Taiwan island and contain China, they can't stop China's reunification process. Reunification must and will be achieved," the newspaper reported Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China as stating.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an official statement, said Pelosi's visit has a "severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations", and "seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

"It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence". China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious démarche and strong protest to the United States," the Chinese foreign ministry added.

Back in the United States, Pelosi's visit to Taiwan is signaling bipartisan support, with senators from the rival Republican party extending support to her. "This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy to which we are committed," said a joint statement issued by 25 senators, including Republican's Tim Scott and Mitchell McConnell.

Throughout the day, ahead of Pelosi's landing in Taiwan, Chinese warplanes near the line dividing the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a blunt warning, said that US politicians who "play with fire" on the Taiwan issue will "come to no good end".

Washington had, a day earlier, said it would not be intimidated by what it described as China's "sabre-rattling". The US Navy has positioned four warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, in waters east of Taiwan, but referred to it as "routine deployments".

While Pelosi's official itinerary was yet to be shared, sources told Reuters that she would be meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on August 3. On the same day, she would also meet a group of activists who are openly critical about China's human rights record, four persons privy to the development told the news agency.

Pelosi, notably, is a close ally of US President Joe Biden, both being members of the Democratic Party, and has been a top critic of the policies adopted by Beijing.


'Complete reunification'

China views visits by US officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the democratic, self-governed island.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring the island under its control. In recent period, it has reiterated the call for "complete reunification". Taiwan, on the other hand, rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island's future.

While the US has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it is bound by American law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

The Chinese foreign ministry's statement, issued after Pelosi's visit, stressed that it is the "sacred responsibility of all Chinese sons and daughters to realise the complete reunification of the motherland".

"China will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the U.S. Speaker's visit. All the consequences arising therefrom must be borne by the US side and the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces," it warned.

Describing Pelosi's visit as a "major political provocation", China said the repeated moves by the Taiwan authorities and the US to change the region's status quo is the "fundamental cause" of the fresh round of tensions.

"China strongly urges the United States to stop playing the 'Taiwan card' and using Taiwan to contain China. It should stop meddling on Taiwan and interfering in China's internal affairs," the Chinese foreign ministry further said.

'State provocateur'

Russia - itself locked in confrontation with the West over its invasion of Ukraine - also chimed in on Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the visit was a provocative U.S. attempt to pile pressure on China, a country with which Russia has forged a strong partnership in recent years.

"The USA is a state provocateur," Zakharova said. "Russia confirms the principle of 'one China' and opposes the independence of the island in any form."

The US-Russia ties struck a new low in February this year, after Moscow launched an invasion on Ukraine despite President Biden's warning of consequences. The web of sanctions imposed by the US did not deter Biden's counterpart Vladimir Putin to move ahead with the military assault.

Xi's warning

During a phone call last week with Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and "those who play with fire will perish by it". Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on August 1 that Beijing's responses could include firing missiles near Taiwan, large-scale air or naval activities, or further "spurious legal claims" such as China's assertion that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway.

"We will not take the bait or engage in sabre-rattling. At the same time, we will not be intimidated," Kirby said.

Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told reporters in a call that the damage to American-Chinese relations done by the Pelosi visit would be hard to repair.

"We all know how bad this relationship has been in the past year. And I just think that this visit by Nancy Pelosi is just going to take it to a new low," Glaser said. "And I think that it's going to be very difficult to recover from that."

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