Updated Aug 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi leaves Taiwan, ending controversial visit

Nancy pelsoi
Nancy Pelosi speaks after receiving Taiwan’s highest civilian honour Aug. 3 in Taipei. Photo: Handout/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi departed Taiwan on Wednesday, concluding a highly watched visit that the senior Democrat said underscored the U.S.' "commitment to democracy," even as it angered China.

Why it matters: Pelosi's visit makes her the most senior American lawmaker to travel to Taiwan since 1997. She made the trip despite President Biden's warning last month that military officials advised against it.

The big picture: Pelosi and other members of her delegation on Wednesday met with President Tsai Ing-wen and other Taiwanese officials and visited Taiwan's National Human Rights Museum, where they had a roundtable discussion with human right's activists, per a statement from the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy.

  • The U.S. delegation and their Taiwanese counterparts discussed a "a wide range of issues of importance to both the United States and Taiwan, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights, and democratic governance," the statement added.
  • "Now more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial," Pelosi said in a speech Wednesday during a meeting with the president.
  • "Today our delegation, of which I'm very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we're proud of our enduring friendship," Pelosi added.

What they're saying: The Chinese government "may prevent Taiwan from sending its leaders to global forums, they cannot prevent world leaders or anyone from traveling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing Democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration," Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday.

  • “This visit is part of our broader travels in the Indo-Pacific, focused on security, prosperity and governance — on which Taiwan is a global leader," she added.
  • "America’s solidarity with the people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as we continue to support the defense of democracy against autocracy in the region and in the world."

State of play: The Chinese government has repeatedly vowed to take control of Taiwan, by force if necessary. It continues to react furiously to any gesture that seems to treat Taiwan as an independent state.

  • China warned of a "strong and resolute" military response to Pelosi's visit ahead of her arrival. On Tuesday, China's Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned Pelosi's visit as an infringement on China's "sovereignty and territorial integrity."
  • China also warned airlines to avoid airspace near the island ahead of live-fire military drills this week and blocked fish and citrus fruit imports from Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi's trip.
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