In the face of threats from China, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged US support for democratic Taiwan. In a joint appearance with President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Wednesday, the US leader said the US will “always stand by Taiwan’s side.” The visit of their congress delegation shows “that we will not give up our commitments to Taiwan”.
Despite all the warnings from Beijing, the 82-year-old Democrat had arrived in the island republic the day before for the highest-ranking visit from the United States in a quarter of a century. China sees Taiwan only as part of the People’s Republic, strictly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei and had vehemently warned the USA against Pelosi’s visit. In response, China’s military launched target practice maneuvers in six sea areas surrounding Taiwan.
The drills are considered the greatest military muscle flexing since the 1995 missile crisis, when China fired missiles over Taiwan to intimidate and the US deployed two aircraft carrier groups. The sea areas for the exercises go well beyond the restricted zones at the time, reach close to Taiwan and sometimes appear to be encroaching on its sovereign territories. Experts also expect that shipping routes could be affected.
Referring indirectly to Beijing’s communist leadership’s threats against Taiwan, Pelosi said, “More than ever, American solidarity is crucial.” US support for Taiwan is bipartisan. “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” Pelosi said, praising Taiwan as “one of the freest societies in the world.”
Pelosi thanked the Taiwanese President for her leadership and called for increased inter-parliamentary cooperation. On trade issues, the new US legislation to strengthen the US chip industry vis-à-vis China offers “a greater opportunity for economic cooperation between the US and Taiwan”.
Taiwan’s president said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn attention to the conflict with China over Taiwan, which is affecting security in the Asia-Pacific region. “Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said, noting the threat from China. “We will do whatever is necessary to strengthen our self-defense capabilities.”
Taiwan is a reliable partner of the United States and will continue to promote cooperation on security, economic development and supply chains.
In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the Washington government expects longer-term reactions from China. The communications director of the National Security Council, John Kirby, expects military maneuvers or economic measures. So far, however, China’s reaction has been fully in line with what the US government had expected and predicted.
Kirby stressed that the US did not want a crisis and would not engage in saber-rattling. The US government is prepared to deal with anything. Referring to Pelosi, Kirby said US President Joe Biden respected her decision to visit Taiwan. Your visit will not change the United States’ one-China policy. According to this, Beijing is regarded as China’s only legitimate government, but the USA does not take a position on the status of Taiwan. In protest, the State Department summoned the US ambassador to Beijing.
Pelosi also wanted to meet human rights activists. According to media reports, among them is Wuer Kaixi, the former leader of the democracy movement in China, which was brutally crushed in 1989. The top US politician then wanted to fly on to the South Korean capital Seoul.
The visit also triggered a debate in Germany. The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen thinks the timing is wrong. “Due to the Russian war of aggression, there are currently more than enough international tensions.” The visit has a purely symbolic meaning, “by which China in turn feels unavoidably provoked,” he told the editorial network Germany (RND). However, China’s threatening gestures are unacceptable.
On the other hand, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Michael Roth (SPD), told the newspapers of the Bayern media group: “This visit is neither aggressive nor provocative.” not impressed.