Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan late Tuesday night amid a flurry of activity; many Taiwanese had flocked to the airport to greet the American dignitary. However, the People’s Republic of China was furious over Pelosi’s visit.
A week ago, a UK media outlet leaked Pelosi’s trip itinerary, which included stops in Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan, including other Indo-Pacific destinations. Chinese officials almost immediately began lobbying threats if Pelosi did follow the plans for her trip.
A flurry of media reports followed. Many, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, said that Speaker Pelosi must keep her Taiwan appointment. To skip the island due to Chinese threat would make America appear weak. Gingrich himself faced some of the same criticism in 1997, when he went to Taiwan as the Speaker of the House at that time. China made some threats to America pending Gingrich’s trip, but then-President Bill Clinton made it clear that there would be an American military presence in the waters near China.
In other words, President Clinton didn’t back down to Chinese threats.
While the White House never publicly said Pelosi shouldn’t go, rumor had it that President Biden had told officials that he thought she should skip the Taiwan stop.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby did say on Monday that “we don’t support an independent Taiwan,” a move from policy in America since Taiwan broke away from China decades ago.
Upon learning that Pelosi had officially landed in Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China released a scathing, lengthy statement condemning Nancy Pelosi’s trip.
The statement was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese government says Speaker Pelosi’s trip “undermines U.S. – China relations and encourages the separatist forces for Taiwan independence.”
Pelosi is the highest ranking American official to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.
The statement by the Chinese government said that Pelosi’s visit “infringes upon” the One China policy, which sees Taiwan as a part of its territory.
Taiwan refers to itself as the Republic of China as opposed to the mainland’s “People’s Republic of China” moniker.
Chinese aggression toward Taiwan has grown more frequent since last August and September. China regularly sends planes over the Taiwan Strait. They have conducted other military exercises near Taiwan as well. Many fear that since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded neighboring Ukraine, China may be watching the American response. Many fear that China could invade Taiwan if they believe America will not assist Taiwan in defensive measures.
America has been increasing its trade and other engagement with Taiwan as China has worked to isolate Taiwan from global trade.
The statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited a communique between Chinese officials and American diplomats. The statement further read Chinese reception of Pelosi’s visit: “Since Speaker Pelosi is the incumbent leader of the U.S. Congress, her visit to and activities in Taiwan, in whatever form and for whatever reason, is a major political provocation to upgrade U.S. official exchanges with Taiwan. China absolutely does not accept this.”
The statement further read that Americans had no “jurisdiction” in Taiwan.
Pelosi was reluctant to answer questions on whether in fact she would visit Taiwan late last week and this past weekend. She did, however, say that the visit is just one of diplomacy and that it is not her intention to upset any Chinese officials. She added that the trip is “not intended to further legitimize U.S. – Taiwan cooperation.”
Pelosi cited the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, and added, “The U.S. continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”
China made many veiled threats, and promised that it would “defend itself” from a “U.S. presence” in the small island.
Currently, the USS Ronald Reagan as well as a strike group is position near Taiwan. A Navy spokesperson revealed that this was a planned trip