Pelosi Says U.S. Will Not Abandon Taiwan as China Protests

TAIPEI, Taiwan — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meeting leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation are showing they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

China claims Taiwan and is opposed to any Taiwanese official engaging with foreign governments. It announced several military exercises and harsh statements following the arrival of the Taiwanese delegation in Taipei on Tuesday night.

Pelosi’s trip has heightened U.S.-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-level position as leader of the House of Representatives. Pelosi is Taiwan’s first speaker in over 25 years since Newt Giingrich visited Taiwan in 1997.

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Tsai thanked Pelosi and presented the civilian honor Order of the PropitiousClouds to the speaker. Pelosi didn’t get as much attention from her about Chinese threats.

“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said. “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Pelosi was greeted by China shortly after landing. China had announced that live-fire drills would begin Tuesday night, and then a four day exercise will commence Thursday.

China’s air force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 war planes, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan.

Chinese paramilitary officers march by the U.S. Embassy Beijing Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island’s democracy.

Her focus has always been the same, she said, going back to her 1991 visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when she and other lawmakers unfurled a small banner supporting democracy, two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters at the square.

That visit was also about human rights and what she called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue countries.”

Pelosi visits Taipei’s human rights museum Wednesday night before heading to South Korea. She is on an Asia tour which includes Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, as well as Malaysia and Japan.

Pelosi, who is leading the trip with five other members of Congress, met earlier Wednesday with representatives from Taiwan’s legislature.

“Madam Speaker’s visit to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of upholding human rights and consolidation of the values of democracy and freedom,” Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan’s legislature, said in welcome.

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The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to tone down the volume on the visit, insisting there’s no change in America’s longstanding “one-China policy,” which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation has “heft,” including Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamoorthi from the House Intelligence Committee.

She also mentioned Rep. Suzan DelBene, whom Pelosi said was instrumental in the passage of a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting American manufacturing and research in semi-conductor chips — an industry in which Taiwan dominates that is vital for modern electronics.

The delegation also includes Mark Takano and Andy Kim, representatives of Japan.

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