Pelosi Heads Out of Taiwan

Next stop for the House Speaker is South Korea
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2022 6:24 AM CDT
Despite Chinese Threats, 'Taiwan Will Not Back Down'
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen gesture during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.   (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

(Newser) – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi departed Taiwan on Wednesday evening for South Korea after a visit that heightened tensions with China, saying she and other members of Congress in her delegation showed 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 Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, per the AP. "America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad." This came after China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, issued a series of harsh statements and announced multiple military exercises around the island.

Taiwan decried the planned military exercises, which are to be the largest aimed at Taiwan since 1995, when China fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show its displeasure at a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to the US. "Such an act equals to sealing off Taiwan by air and sea, such an act covers our country’s territory and territorial waters, and severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty," Capt. Jian-chang Yu said at a briefing by the National Defense Ministry. "Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down," President Tsai said at her meeting with Pelosi, who also met with prominent rights activists and representatives from Taiwan's legislature. "We will firmly uphold our nation's sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy."

Tsai, thanking Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a civilian honor, the Order of the Propitious Clouds. China responded differently. Shortly after Pelosi landed Tuesday night, China announced live-fire drills that reportedly started that night, as well as the four-day exercises starting Thursday. The People's Liberation Army Air Force also flew a contingent of 21 war planes Tuesday night, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng also summoned the US ambassador in Beijing, Nicholas Burns, to convey the country's protests the same night. On Wednesday, China also banned some imports from Taiwan, including citrus fruit and fish. (Read more Taiwan stories.)

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