World House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan over objections...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan over objections from China

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A photo made available by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (C) being greeted by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (L) as she arrives at the Songshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/EPA-EFE

Aug. 2 (BP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan with a congressional delegation Tuesday in a visit condemned by the Chinese government.

Speculation had surrounded the unannounced visit for days, but was never confirmed ahead of Pelosi’s Indo-Pacific trip, which began in Singapore and is scheduled to include Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

Flightradar24, an app providing live radar tracking of Pelosi’s flight temporarily crashed Tuesday due to a large number of users following it to see if the plane would indeed land in Taiwan.

After touching down aboard a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40 Clipper, Pelosi, 82, a Democrat, became the highest-ranking U.S. official to make an official visit to the island since former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement issued by her office after landing in Taipei.

Taiwan’s Chinese-language Liberty Times reported that Pelosi and her delegation will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

In a statement, Pelosi said the visit was “focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance. Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. 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.”

Though run by an independent government, China still claims the island as part of its territory.

Taiwan’s military raised its level of combat readiness in response to exercises and live-fire drills by China ahead of Pelosi’s visit, amid tensions between Beijing and Washington.

The Chinese government immediately moved to condemn Pelosi’s visit.

“These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it,” the government said in a state publication.

“Our visit is one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan — and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo,” Pelosi’s statement said.

The California Democrat had planned to make a stop in Taipei in April during a scheduled Asia tour, but the trip was canceled after she tested positive for COVID-19.

Other members of the delegation expected to take the trip are Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; and Reps. Suzan Delbene, D-Wash., Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Andy Kim, D-N.J.

Washington’s concerns over Beijing’s plans for the democratic island of 23 million have grown in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China has amplified military provocations against Taiwan in the past several months, with frequent incursions into the island’s Air Defense Identification Zone.

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