Nancy Pelosi defies Beijing by traveling to Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi defies Beijing by traveling to Taiwan

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan on Tuesday, despite warnings and threats from Beijing, which considers the visit a serious provocation that could inflame already strained Sino-US relations.

On tour in Asia, Ms. Pelosi, 82, is the highest elected American official to make a trip to this island in 25 years. Beijing has clearly said that it sees his visit as a major provocation.

Arriving in the evening in an American military plane, she was greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, whose services, in a press release, praised the “unshakeable” American support.

Ms Pelosi recalled in a separate press release this “unconditional support of America for the vibrant democracy of Taiwan”, believing that her presence did not in “any way” contravene the long-standing policy of the United States towards China.

His visit had not been confirmed in advance but several American and Taiwanese media had mentioned it, leading to strong condemnations from Beijing.

Upon the arrival of Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced “a serious violation” of American commitments vis-à-vis China, which “seriously undermines regional peace and stability”.

He also castigated the multiple “extremely dangerous” actions in recent years of American leaders, who “use Taiwan to contain China”, especially with this visit.

– The army threatens –

The Chinese Ministry of Defense meanwhile promised “targeted military actions”. He announced a series of military maneuvers around the island that will begin on Wednesday, including “long-range live ammunition firing” in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwanese authorities reported overnight that 21 Chinese military aircraft entered the island’s air defense identification zone (much wider than airspace) on Tuesday.

China considers Taiwan, with its 23 million inhabitants, to be one of its provinces, which it has not yet managed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War (1949) .

Opposed to any initiative giving the Taiwanese authorities international legitimacy, Beijing is against any official contact between Taiwan and other countries.

US officials and parliamentarians regularly visit the island. But China judges that a visit by Ms. Pelosi, one of the highest figures in the American state, is a major provocation.

Last week, in a telephone interview with his American counterpart Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping had already called on the United States not to “play with fire”.

The previous Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Since 1979, Washington has recognized only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide support to the Taiwanese authorities, in particular through multiple arms sales.

The United States also practices “strategic ambiguity”: in short, they refrain from saying whether or not they would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an invasion.

– “Sheer provocation” –

Russia, a major ally of China, on Tuesday accused the Americans of “destabilizing the world” and described Nancy Pelosi’s visit as “pure provocation”. “The Chinese side has the right to take necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity regarding the Taiwan issue,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Just before Ms Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese state television CGTN reported that Su-35 fighter jets were “crossing the Taiwan Strait” separating mainland China from the island. In a press release, the Taiwanese army denied any crossing of the strait by Su-35s.

Several American ships were also cruising in the region on Tuesday, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, according to American military sources.

Most observers rate the likelihood of armed conflict as low. But US officials said they were preparing for shows of force from the Chinese military, such as missile strikes in the Taiwan Straits and aerial incursions around the island.

This visit risks leading to Chinese reprisals against American and Taiwanese interests.

“The United States will certainly be responsible (for the consequences) and will have to pay the price for their attack on China’s sovereignty and security,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for Chinese diplomacy, on Tuesday.

– Retaliation –

According to the Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times, which cites anonymous sources, the American leader will meet on Wednesday Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the pet peeve of Beijing because she comes from an independence party.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said it was “determined” to protect the island against any attack.

“The likelihood of a war or a serious incident is low,” however, tweeted Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the American think tank German Marshall Fund. “But the likelihood that (China) will take a series of military, economic and diplomatic measures…is not negligible.”

Taiwanese agriculture authorities said on Tuesday that Beijing had suspended the import of certain Taiwanese goods, such as fish products.

Last week, the Taiwanese army carried out its most important annual military maneuvers.

For its part, China has been organizing multiple “live ammunition” military exercises at sea in recent days, generally very close to the Chinese coast.

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