Pelosi Taiwan visit - live: GOP offers rare praise of Speaker as China lashes out

·23 min read

Tensions are high across the region as US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi reached Taiwan and met president Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, with Chinese warplanes flying close to the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

“Today, our delegation... came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship,” Ms Pelosi said during her meeting with the Taiwanese president.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese military has increased its alertness level as Chinese warships and aircraft “squeezed” the median line on Tuesday morning. The foreign ministry condemned Ms Pelosi’s trip as “playing with fire” and confirmed they will hold live fire exercises off the coast of Taiwan.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post by Ms Pelosi, the speaker describes the visit as being “an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom”.

Ms Pelosi was also offered rare praise from GOP lawmakers for visiting in defiance of Chinese warnings.

The visit to Taiwan is the most senior by a US politician since then-House speaker Newt Gingrich went there in 1997.

Key points

  • Pelosi arrives in Taiwan amid US-China tensions

  • Pelosi says Taiwan trip ‘in no way contradicts’ longstanding US policy

  • Beijing slams trip as ‘extremely dangerous’

  • US Navy deploys 4 warships east of Taiwan

  • Chinese vessels, planes move close to median line of Taiwan Strait

Chinese drills around island meant to destroy regional stability, says Taiwan defence ministry

05:41 , Stuti Mishra

Taiwan’s defence ministry has said that Chinese live-fire drills around the democratic island this week demonstrated Beijing’s intention to destroy regional peace and stability.

Taiwan has enhanced alertness levels and will react timely and appropriately to the drills, a defence ministry spokesman told reporters via a voice message.

Tsai thanks Pelosi for support, says Taiwan will not back down

05:21 , Stuti Mishra

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen thanked visiting US House speaker Nancy Pelosi today for her concrete actions to support Taiwan at this critical moment and said the island will not back down in the face of heightened military threats.

Ms Tsai also told Ms Pelosi that she is one of Taiwan’s most devoted friends and thanked her for her unwavering support on the international stage.

She added that Taiwan is a reliable partner of the United States and will continue to work with the US to strengthen collaboration in security, economic development and supply chains.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (Getty Images)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (Getty Images)

Why is Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan so contentious?

04:58 , Stuti Mishra

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the highest-level trip by a US official in 25 years, has sparked a diplomatic crisis between the US and China.

Beijing warned the United States that it was “playing with fire” if it allowed the speaker’s visit to take place, and even Joe Biden had cautioned against it.

So why is Ms Pelosi’s trip so controversial?

Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of approximately 23 million off the coast of China, has become a flashpoint in the growing geopolitical struggle between Washington and Beijing.

Taiwan has its own democratic political system, constitution, and military, and many Taiwanese consider the island to be a separate nation to China. But Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that will eventually come under its control — by force if necessary.

Rirchard Hall has more for The Independent.

Why is Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan so contentious?

Taiwan increases military alertness level

04:42 , Stuti Mishra

Taiwan’s cabinet has said the military has increased its alertness level and authorities will make plans to ensure safety and stability around the island, after China announced a series of military exercises in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei.

Taiwan’s cabinet also said its citizens should feel reassured and that a national stabilisation fund for the stock market will closely watch the situation and react in a timely manner.

Nancy Pelosi explains why she gambled on big Taiwan trip

04:20 , Josh Marcus

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei, Taiwan for a visit that’s been heavily criticised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), The Washington Post published an op-ed by Ms Pelosi in which she says that the “visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom”.

Ms Pelosi opened the opinion piece by noting that the Taiwan Relations Act was passed 43 years ago, calling it “one of the most important pillars of US foreign policy in the Asia Pacific”.

The speaker wrote that the legislation “set out America’s commitment to a democratic Taiwan, providing the framework for an economic and diplomatic relationship that would quickly flourish into a key partnership”.

Gustaf Kilander has the full story.

Pelosi op-ed: Taipei visit is ‘unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan’

ICMYI: Why even Republicans are supporting Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip

03:50 , Josh Marcus

Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan for a controversial visit on Tuesday. While she was greeted by dignitaries and crowds of waiting onlookers in Taipei, her visit has prompted both praise and controversy in the US, China, and beyond.

Perhaps most unexpectedly, a group of 26 Senate Republicans have voiced their support for the House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan, despite China’s warnings that the trip would prompt “disastrous consequences.”

“For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan,” the Senators said in a statement of support. “This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

Catch up on the politics surrounding the House Speaker’s trip to Taiwan.

Nancy Pelosi gets rare Republican support for controversial trip to Taiwan

EXPLAINER: Why Pelosi went to Taiwan, and why China's angry

03:20 , Josh Marcus

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew into Taiwan on an Air Force passenger jet Tuesday, she became the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island. China announced military maneuvers in retaliation, even as Taiwanese officials welcomed her and she headed to her hotel.

The reason her visit ratcheted up tension between China and the United States: China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and it views visits by foreign government officials as them recognizing the island’s sovereignty.

More context in this explainer.

EXPLAINER: Why Pelosi went to Taiwan, and why China's angry

Taiwan says several Chinese jets flew close to island after Pelosi's arrival

02:50 , Josh Marcus

Taiwan officials said that 21 Chinese military aircraft entered its air defence zone on Tuesday, 2 August, as Nancy Pelosi arrived on an historic visit.

The House of Representatives Speaker’s trip is the first visit by a US speaker to the country since 1997.

Ms Pelosi has been a vocal critic of Chinese leadership and previously said it is “important for us to show support for Taiwan”.

“21 PLA aircraft entered Taiwan’s southwest [Air Defence Identification Zone] on August 2, 2022,” Taiwan’s defence ministry said.

Here’s our report on the encounter.

Taiwan says several Chinese jets flew close to island after Pelosi's arrival

US plans to block Chinese access to chip design software

02:20 , Josh Marcus

The US is planning to prevent Chinese access to special software for designing semiconductors that go into hyper-advanced AI chips.

It’s the latest attempt by America to prop up its own advanced computing industries and prevent China from gaining an edge in emerging technologies like AI.

The Biden administration has spent months considering the policy, which is now under review by the Office of Management and Budget, Protocol reports.

Congress is working on legislation to make the US semiconductor more competitive, as Eric Garcia reports.

Senate passes computer chips bill to be more competitive with China

Nancy Pelosi’s other big trip that angered China

01:50 , Josh Marcus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been a longtime critic of China’s record on human rights and political freedoms.

In 1991, she memorably unfurled a pro-democracy banner in Tiananmen Square shortly after the student massacre.

Here’s some of our past coverage on the California representative’s stance on China.

Pelosi to Taiwan would be career capstone, despite warnings

US House Speaker Pelosi visits China; protesters seek help

Unverified videos show Chinese military moving tanks to coastal province

01:30 , Josh Marcus

China has been making a show of military force amid a visit to Taiwan from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including live fire exercises off the island’s coast.

China to hold live fire exercises off Taiwan coast after Pelosi’s arrival

According to unverified videos circulating on Chinese social media, the Chinese military has also been moving scores of tanks into the coastal Fujian province.

China suspends imports of Taiwanese sweets amid Pelosi visit

01:10 , Josh Marcus

China has been amping up the pressure on Taiwan and by proxy the US as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the contested island nation.

In addition to brash displays of military hardware, China has also temporarily suspended imports from a number of Taiwanese food factories amid the overseas visit.

The policy will hit companies making sweets, biscuits, and pastries, the South China Morning Post reports.

Why did Pelosi go to Taiwan? To ‘stick it to China’

Wednesday 3 August 2022 00:50 , Josh Marcus

Nancy Pelosi has explained herself plenty when it comes to why she’s visiting Taiwan.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in The Washington Post, she said the “visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom”.

Those close to the House Speaker say there’s another purpose as well.

“She wants to stick it to China,” an unnamed source familiar with her thinking told Puck.

What is the One China policy?

Wednesday 3 August 2022 00:30 , Josh Marcus

When Donald Trump took a call from Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-Wen, he became the first president or president-elect in 40 years to speak to the island’s leader.

The call plunged the superpowers into a diplomatic incident over a key foundation of US-China relations: American support for the “One China” policy.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the first of three ‘joint communiques’ laying out the US’ official stance on Taiwan. It read: “Taiwan is a part of China. The United States does not challenge that position.”

Here’s what else you need to know about the policies that form the foundation of US-China-Taiwan relations.

Republican senator says ‘Speaker Pelosi was right'

Wednesday 3 August 2022 00:10 , Josh Marcus

Senate Republicans have offered their unexpected support to Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, and even they’re surprised that’s how things have turned out.

Nancy Pelosi gets rare Republican support for controversial trip to Taiwan

“I’m about to use four words in a row that I haven’t used in this way before and those four words are ‘Speaker Pelosi was right’ when she decided to include Taiwan on her visit to Asia,” Missouri senator Roy Blunt said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Watch his full remarks below.

Senator argues US is forgetting about Taiwan, even as Pelosi visit commences

Tuesday 2 August 2022 23:50 , Josh Marcus

US Senator Marsha Blackburn is arguing that the US is trying to get the world to “forget all about Taiwan’s freedom.”

“The world overlooked Wuhan’s role in the COVID pandemic,” she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “The world overlooked Beijing’s human rights record during the genocide games. Now, Biden is pressuring the world to forget all about Taiwan’s freedom.”

It’s unclear what exactly her comments were refering to on the part of the president, but Mr Biden has largely kept with previous administrations’ policies towards Taiwan. In some cases, he’s gone further than the “strategic ambiguity” of past White Houses, which have offered Taiwan assurance that it will have the resources to defend itself if China tries to change its status unilaterally.

In May, the president offered one of the strongest pro-Taiwan statements in decades, telling reporters the US would defend the island nation militarily if China invades.

“That’s the commitment we made,” he said.

Taiwan prepares for potential Chinese attacks with shelter drills

Tuesday 2 August 2022 23:29 , Josh Marcus

Even before a visit from Nancy Pelosi ratcheted up tensions between China and Taiwan, the contested island nation was preparing for the possibility a potential Chinese attack.

Last month, Taiwan held its first comprehensive air-raid drill since the Covid pandemic begin.

The capital, Taipei, has 4,600 bomb shelters capable of housing 12 million people altogether.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

What the opinion pages are saying about Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan

Tuesday 2 August 2022 23:13 , Josh Marcus

A visit from a top US politician to Taiwan was never going to go down without provoking a few strong opinions.

The opinion pages of many major news outlets don’t seem particularly supportive of House Speaker Pelosi’s surprise trip to the contested island nation. Many editorial writers seem to rate the decision as either a dangerous gamble, or a sign of a wider, dangerous deterioration in US-China relations.

In The New York Times, Thomas Friedman called the trip “utterly reckless.”

He writes:Nothing good will come of it. Taiwan will not be more secure or more prosperous as a result of this purely symbolic visit, and a lot of bad things could happen. These include a Chinese military response that could result in the U.S. being plunged into indirect conflicts with a nuclear-armed Russia and a nuclear-armed China at the same time.

In The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, the Editorial Board argued that the tensions surrounding the trip show the urgency of reducing the growing tensions between the US and China.

For 50 years the mutual understanding has been that China will wait for peaceful reunification while the U.S. recognizes one China and is ambiguous about defending Taiwan. That is no longer holding. Mr. Xi wants to unify China on his presidential watch, and Beijing’s rhetoric and its military posture are increasingly belligerent.

In Al Jazeera, Asia specialist Richard Javad Heydarian, for his part, had a similar take, suggesting the trip “will likely mark the opening salvo in a long and increasingly perilous struggle for the future of Taiwan.”

Looking back at another high-profile Pelosi visit

Tuesday 2 August 2022 22:52 , Josh Marcus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan isn’t her only high-profile foreign trip this year.

In May, she traveled with a congressional delegation to vist Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, amid the ongoing invasion by Russia.

“We are here to say to you, we are with you till this fight is over,” she said in a video about the trip. “We are here until victory is won”.

Catch up on our full report about the trip, from Gino Spocchia.

‘We are here until victory is won’, says Nancy Pelosi in visit to Kyiv

NSC Spokesman John Kirby says US will not engage in ‘saber rattling’ with China

Tuesday 2 August 2022 22:35 , Graig Graziosi

NSC Spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that the US would not engage in “saber rattling” with the US over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

“The US will not engage in saber-rattling. We will continue to support Taiwan, defend a free and open Indo- Pacific and seek to maintain communication with Beijing,” he said.

Pelosi scores rare GOP approval by traveling to Taiwan

Tuesday 2 August 2022 22:10 , Graig Graziosi

Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Taiwan despite China’s warnings that it would be a provocation.

The Indpendent’s Josh Marcus has more on the GOP response to Ms Pelosi in his story below...

Nancy Pelosi gets rare Republican support for controversial trip to Taiwan

Senator Joe Manchin praises Pelosi trip to Taiwan

Tuesday 2 August 2022 21:45 , Graig Graziosi

Senator Joe Manchin, who despite being a Democrat is often seen as a thorn in the side of the party’s efforts, has praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. He commended Taiwan’s democracy and its relationship to the US as a trading partner.

“I think Nancy Pelosi did the right thing ... I support it 1000%,” he said. “They’ve been a major trading partner of ours. We’ve had great relationships. They embrace democracy and the freedoms of democracy.”

Admiral John Kirby says China should not use Pelosi visit as excuse to ramp up ‘aggressiveness'

Tuesday 2 August 2022 21:30 , Graig Graziosi

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication Admiral John Kirby said he was not surprised by China’s response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but said the nation should not use it as pretext for ratcheting up tensions with the US.

"We've seen a number of announcements from the PRC in just the last several hours that are, unfortunately, right in line with what we anticipated,” he said. “There is no reason, as I said yesterday, for Beijing to turn this visit — which is consistent with long-standing US policy — into some sort of crisis or use it as pretext to increase aggressiveness and military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait, now or beyond her travel."

Russian officials call Pelosi Taiwan visit ‘purely provocative'

Tuesday 2 August 2022 21:10 , Graig Graziosi

A Kremlin official has criticised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, calling it “purely provocation.”

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan “provokes a situation in the region” that could “lead to an increase in tension.”

Mitch McConnell says Pelosi Taiwan visit is ‘important'

Tuesday 2 August 2022 20:55 , Graig Graziosi

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined other Republicans who praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, calling the trip “important.”

“I think it’s important that the Speaker did go to Taiwan,” he said. “I don’t think the Chinese get to tell members of Congress where they can go.”

Fox News hosts praise House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit

Tuesday 2 August 2022 20:30 , Graig Graziosi

In a rare moment of bipartisan praise, Fox News hosts praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

Conservatives have increasingly viewed China as an unchecked challenger to US global hegemony, and — at least rhetorically — supported more aggresive pushback against the nation.

Why is Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan so contentious?

Tuesday 2 August 2022 20:15 , Johanna Chisholm

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the highest-level trip by a US official in 25 years, has sparked a diplomatic crisis between the US and China, with the latter labelling it “playing with fire”.

But why is Ms Pelosi’s trip so controversial?

Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of approximately 23 million off the coast of China, has become a flashpoint in the growing geopolitical struggle between Washington and Beijing.

Taiwan has its own democratic political system, constitution, and military, and many Taiwanese consider the island to be a separate nation to China. But Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that will eventually come under its control — by force if necessary.

Officially, the US adheres to a “One China” policy, which recognises the government in Beijing as “the sole legal Government of China”. But successive US leaders have maintained unofficial ties with Taiwan over the decades, and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act obligates the US government to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan.

Read the full explainer from my colleague Richard Hall below:

Why is Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan so contentious?

US National Security Council coordinator says Pelosi’s visit doesn’t violate One China policy

Tuesday 2 August 2022 19:55 , Johanna Chisholm

John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said that Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan doesn’t violate any of Washington’s foreign policy and added that the Biden administration will not be intimidated by threats from China.

“We think it’s important that the speaker has the opportunity to visit Taiwan just like other members of Congress have just this year,” Mr Kirby told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Tuesday.

“We also reaffirm the One China policy. We don’t support Taiwan independence but we absolutely do support the right and the prerogative of congressional leaders … to visit Taiwan if that’s what she wants to do,” he said, adding that there was there’s no reason to “erupt into conflict” over the speaker’s visit.

Watch the full interview here.

Chinese ambassador to the UK decries Pelosi visit during press conference

Tuesday 2 August 2022 19:45 , Graig Graziosi

The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, held a press conference Tuesday condeming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

The ambassador said that her visit “seriously violated the One China principle,” that it “seriously infringed Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that it “undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

The official called the trip a “highly dangerous trick.”

Explainer: Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not President Joe Biden, visiting Taiwan?

Tuesday 2 August 2022 19:32 , Johanna Chisholm

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s US Air Force jet touched down at Taiwan’s Taipei Songshan airport, she became the highest-ranking American official to visit the island since Newt Gingrich in 1997.

In a Washington Post op-ed published just after she had landed, Ms Pelosi said the trip is meant to demonstrate the US commitment to defence of the island.

But unlike other countries in the region with deep relationships with the US, such as Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan, Taiwan has only once hosted a visit by a US president, when then-president Dwight Eisenhower travelled there in June 1960.

But even though Ms Pelosi’s visit doesn’t bestow the kind of prestige associated with a presidential trip, the Chinese government has still raised alarms about her setting foot on the island, which Beijing claims as part of its’ territory.

Read my colleague Andrew Feinberg’s explainer on why Ms Pelosi -- and not President Joe Biden -- made this landmark trip to Taiwan.

Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — not President Joe Biden — in Taiwan?

Former Taiwan presidential spokesperson says China’s reaction ‘ridiculous and predictble'

Tuesday 2 August 2022 19:15 , Graig Graziosi

Former Taiwan Presidential Spokesperson Kolas Yotaka has called China’s actions in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit “ridiculous and predictable.”

“I hope that China can calm down. Because obviously Taiwan is a sovereign & independent country. And China has no right to interfere in anything related to Taiwan.”

Pelosi: Taiwan is an ‘important partner in the Indo-Pacific'

Tuesday 2 August 2022 18:56 , Johanna Chisholm

Nancy Pelosi reiterated earlier comments she made about her delegation’s motivation for travelling to Taiwan, stating later on Tuesday that her trip to Taipei underscores how America “stands with” the island of 23 million people.

“Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific,” tweeted the speaker a few hours after arriving in Taipei.

More than 20 Chinese military planes enter Taiwan’s air defense zone on day of Pelosi’s arrival

Tuesday 2 August 2022 18:36 , Johanna Chisholm

The AFP reported Tuesday that 21 Chinese military planes entered into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday on the first day of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

Taiwan’s defence ministry tweeted the update a couple of hours after the speaker had arrived in Taipei, noting that a total of 21 PLA aircrafts had entered the island’s southwest ADIZ on 2 August 2022 while sharing pictures of the detailed models that they believe had been used in the fly over.

Taiwan skyscraper lit up with messages welcoming Pelosi

Tuesday 2 August 2022 18:32 , Johanna Chisholm

The tallest skyscraper in Taiwan lit up on Tuesday night with messages welcoming the arrival of Nancy Pelosi, as the US House Speaker’s trip marked the first time a high-ranking elected official had visited Taiwan since then-speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

The messages, displayed on Taipei 101, flipped between: “Welcome to Taiwan”, “Thank you, friends of democracy ”, and “American-Taiwanese friendship lasts forever”.

National Defense Ministry says report that Chinese jets crossed Taiwan Strait ‘fake news’

Tuesday 2 August 2022 17:56 , Johanna Chisholm

Taiwan’s defense ministry said Tuesday shortly after it was reported by Chinese state media that SU-35 fighter jets sent by Beijing had crossed the sensitive Taiwan Strait that the report was ‘fake news’.

“In response to rumors online that PLA Su-35 fighter jets had crossed Taiwan Strait, that is fake news,” the defense ministry tweeted, before asking the public to read their full statement online.

“Meanwhile, we urge netizens to not spread it and strongly condemn this malicious act,” the department added.