Nancy Pelosi defies China threats, lands in Taiwan

Aug 3, 2022: According to a report by AFP, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday evening, defying a string of increasingly stark warnings and threats from China that have sent tensions between the world’s two superpowers soaring.

Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, is the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years and Beijing has made clear that it regards her presence as a major provocation, setting the region on edge.

Live broadcasts showed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who flew on a US military aircraft, being greeted at Taipei’s Songshan Airport by foreign minister Joseph Wu.

“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” Pelosi’s official Twitter account tweeted moments after she arrived.

She added her visit “in no way contradicts” US policy towards Taiwan and Beijing.

The People’s Liberation Army said it was on “high alert” and would “launch a series of targeted military actions in response” to the visit.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing’s foreign ministry added.

While the Biden administration is understood to be opposed to a Taiwan stop, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Pelosi was entitled to go where she pleased.

Moscow said it was “absolutely in solidarity with China”, calling the prospect of a Pelosi visit “pure provocation”.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for the Kremlin by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

Pelosi left Kuala Lumpur Tuesday after meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

So many people were tracking the US military plane ferrying her on FlightRadar that the website said some users experienced outages.

Before her arrival, Taipei’s government had stayed silent on whether she would visit even as local media published reports showing her presence was all but guaranteed.

The capital’s famous Taipei 101 skyscraper was illuminated with the words “Speaker Pelosi… Thank You” on Tuesday night before her plane arrived.

Taipei’s Council of Agriculture on Tuesday said China had suspended the import of some Taiwanese goods, including some fishery products, tea, and honey. The council said China cited regulatory breaches.

Pelosi’s potential visit has been preceded by a flurry of military activity across the region that highlights how combustible the issue of Taiwan is.

Last week both Taiwan and China held live fire drills.

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