Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, making the highest-level visit by a US official in 25 years and setting up a tense standoff with China that could lead to more aggressive military posturing, Paul Mozur and Amy Chang Chien reported for the New York Times.
Photo Insert: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the US delegation pose for a photo with the host country's welcoming party upon touching down in Taiwan.
The trip is likely to prompt a sharp response from China, which bristles at any challenge to its claims on self-ruled Taiwan. China has warned Pelosi not to make the visit, while the US has warned Beijing not to turn the moment into a crisis.
Long a sore issue in a troubled US-China relationship, Taiwan — which has its own military and democratically elected government and was never governed by China— has emerged as the front line in a geopolitical showdown over influence and power in Asia.
The US has sent a steady stream of senior officials to show solidarity with Taiwan, while President Biden has said he would act to defend Taiwan in the event of a conflict.
The White House has repeatedly walked back the president’s statements, saying a longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the defense of Taiwan remains in place.
After a nearly two-and-a-half-hour phone conversation between Biden and Xi last week, China warned that the US was “playing with fire” if it allowed the speaker’s visit to take place. In anticipation of Ms. Pelosi’s trip, China’s military said on Saturday that it would conduct drills with live ammunition off its coast at one of the narrowest points of the Taiwan Strait, just 80 miles from Taiwan.
The next day, a spokesman for the Chinese Air Force said the country would send fighter jets around Taiwan as a demonstration of its ability to defend its sovereignty, without offering specifics on timing.
In Taiwan, where many are inured to threats from China, the standoff between Washington and Beijing over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit received subdued attention before Tuesday, only leapfrogging news about coming elections and celebrity gossip on that day, when her arrival was imminent.
A video provided by a Tibetan activist, Tashi Tsering, showed people on Tuesday night gathering outside the Grand Hyatt Taipei, where Ms. Pelosi was expected to spend the night.
A number of them held up banners reading, “The public of Taiwan welcomes US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” “Taiwan is helping” and “Taiwan ≠ China.” Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has kept mum, though political advisers close to her have said they welcome visits from US officials.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s military said it would strengthen combat readiness in anticipation of a potential response from China. On Tuesday, Taiwan’s premier, Su Tseng-chang, expressed a “warm welcome to any foreign guests visiting,” adding that it was up to the guests to decide when to visit.