Pelosi’s visit was full of praise and support for Taiwan, angering China

  • Pelosi Tells President Tsai “We Will Not Abandon Taiwan”
  • China has stepped up military operations around Taiwan
  • Taiwan’s military raises alert level
  • Blinken discussed Pelosi’s visit with China’s Wang Yi last month
  • China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing

TAIPEI, Aug 3 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday praising unity and democracy, shrugging off Chinese anger over her brief trip to the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own.

China has expressed its anger over a US visit to the island in 25 years, sparking military action in the waters around it, summoning the US ambassador in Beijing and halting many agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said some of China’s planned military exercises were to take place within Taiwan’s 12-nautical-mile sea and air zone, a move a senior defense official described to reporters as unprecedented.

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Despite repeated warnings from China, Pelosi accompanied a congressional delegation for her unannounced but closely watched visit late Tuesday, which she said showed America’s unwavering commitment to Taiwan’s democracy.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it clear in no uncertain terms that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects is pushing for formal independence – read more

“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is important, and that’s the message we bring here today,” he said during his 19-hour visit.

A longtime critic of China, particularly on human rights, Pelosi met with a former Tiananmen activist, a Hong Kong bookseller detained by China and a Taiwanese activist recently released by China.

Anger at the 82-year-old Democrat’s opposition to Beijing was palpable across Chinese social media, with one blogger scolding: “This old she-devil, she actually dares to come!” read more

The last time US House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan was in 1997. But Pelosi’s visit comes as Sino-US relations have sharply deteriorated as China has emerged as the most powerful economic, military and geopolitical power in the past quarter century.

China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring it under its control. The US warned China not to use the visit as an excuse for military action against Taiwan.

In response, China’s customs department announced a freeze on imports of citrus fruits, cold white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan, while its commerce ministry banned exports of natural sand to Taiwan.

Although there was little sign of protests against US targets or consumer goods, there was a significant police presence outside the US embassy in Shanghai and more security than usual outside the embassy in Beijing.

Military exercises

After Pelosi’s visit, China’s military announced joint air and sea exercises near Taiwan and test launches of conventional missiles into the sea east of the island, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported, detailing live-fire drills and other drills around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Pelosi’s visit would seriously damage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “seriously affect the political foundation of Sino-US relations, and seriously violate China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Before Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese fighter jets buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait. China’s military said it was on high alert and would launch “targeted military operations” in response to Pelosi’s visit.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said after Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan that the US was “not going to be intimidated” by China’s threats or belligerent rhetoric, and that there was no reason for her visit to provoke a crisis or conflict.

Kirby said China could engage in “economic coercion” on Taiwan, adding that the impact on US-China relations would depend on Beijing’s actions in the coming days and weeks.

During last month’s G20 meeting in Bali, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the possibility of Pelosi’s visit with Wang Yi, and such a trip would be entirely Pelosi’s decision and independent of the US government, a senior US official said on Wednesday. read more

‘China’s Ambition’

The United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by US law to provide the means of self-defense. China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as sending a reassuring signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Taiwan rejects China’s claim to sovereignty, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

Taiwan’s military raised its alert level. 21 Chinese planes entered its air defense identification zone on Tuesday, its defense ministry said, and China is trying to threaten major ports and cities with exercises in the surrounding sea.

“The busiest international channels in the Indo-Pacific region include so-called training areas,” a senior Taiwanese official familiar with its defense planning told Reuters on Wednesday.

“We can see China’s ambition: to turn the Taiwan Strait into non-international waters, as well as to make the entire area west of the first island chain in the western Pacific its sphere of influence,” the person said.

China’s foreign ministry said it did not see its military exercises around Taiwan causing any freedom of navigation issues.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; By Tony Munro; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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