Nancy Pelosi says US will not abandon Taiwan as China protests

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and other members of Congress visiting Taiwan showed they would not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a brief speech during a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

“America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains adamant.”

America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains adamantNancy Pelosi

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement of Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced several military drills across the island and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation landed in the Taiwanese capital Taipei Tuesday night.

Ms. Pelosi’s trip has heightened tensions between the US and China because of her senior position as Speaker of the House of Representatives more than visits by other congressmen. Since Newt Gingrich in 1997, she is the first Speaker of the House to come to Taiwan in 25 years.

Ms. Tsai thanked Ms. Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan and presented the speaker with a civil honor, the Order of Clouds of Fortune. She was more explicit in her remarks about Chinese threats than Ms. Pelosi.

“Taiwan will not back down in the face of deliberately escalated military threats,” Ms. Tsai said. “We will firmly defend our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Shortly after Ms Pelosi landed, China announced live-fire drills that would begin Tuesday night and a four-day drill that would begin Thursday in waters on all sides of the island.


Ms. Pelosi (left) with Ms. Tsai (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

China’s Air Force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 warplanes, including fighter jets, to Taiwan.

Noting that support for Taiwan in Congress is bipartisan, Ms Pelosi praised the island’s democracy.

Her focus has always been the same, she said, going back to her visit to Tiananmen Square in 1991 when she and other lawmakers carried a small banner in support of democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square unfolded.

That visit also covered human rights and what she called the dangerous transfer of technology to “rogue countries.”

Ms Pelosi later on Wednesday will visit a human rights museum in Taipei before heading to South Korea, the next stop on her Asia tour, which also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. Nancy Pelosi says US will not abandon Taiwan as China protests

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