House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday for what she called a show of American solidarity for the self-ruled democracy, defying repeated warnings from Beijing and fueling U.S.-China tensions.
Mrs. Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in a quarter-century, said in a written statement shortly after landing that the trip signaled “America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.” She was set to meet on Wednesday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and legislators.
The visit has angered Beijing over what it regards as a challenge to its sovereignty and has unsettled the White House, which is wary that the trip could further undermine already-tense U.S.-China relations.
Shortly after Mrs. Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday night, Beijing issued a volley of statements condemning the visit, sent jet fighter over the Taiwan Strait and said it would conduct live-fire exercises around the island.
China’s foreign ministry said the trip “severely infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
China’s Communist Party claims Taiwan as its own territory and hasn’t ruled out using force to bring the island under Beijing’s governance. The U.S. abides by a “One China” policy that acknowledges—but doesn’t endorse—Beijing’s claims over Taiwan, and is committed by law to sell weapons to Taiwan for its self-defense.
Mrs. Pelosi, a critic of the Chinese Communist Party, defended her visit as a reaffirmation of support for Taiwan that is in line with longstanding U.S. policy and said the trip was part of a broader push to bolster democratic ideals.
“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,” she said in her statement.