US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday ended a high-profile, 24-hour visit to Taiwan that has angered neighboring China, which has announced military drills near the self-governed island that it claims as part of its own territory.
Earlier in the day Pelosi met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and underscored her country’s support. Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit the island in 25 years, said her trip aims “to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan.”
The unannounced but widely anticipated visit, part of a larger Asia-Pacific tour that began on Monday, has infuriated Beijing, further straining relations between the two superpowers.
“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” said Pelosi in a public speech during her meeting with Tsai, which was streamed live. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”
Pelosi also accepted a civilian award, the Order of the Propitious Clouds, given to individuals who have made significant contributions to Taiwan.
It is my great and humble privilege to accept on behalf of the Congress the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon: a symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship with Taiwan.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 3, 2022
Join me & President @iingwen for this special presentation. https://t.co/1etOJHuIT5
On Tuesday night, the Chinese government summoned the US ambassador in Beijing, Nicholas Burns, to express its displeasure and warn him that his country “is playing with fire.” “The move is extremely egregious in nature and the consequences are extremely serious. China will not sit idly by,” warned Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, as reported by the state agency Xinhua. On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Pelosi’s visit as “a serious violation of the one-China principle” that “gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
China has also announced a series of live-fire military drills in the area from Thursday to Sunday. The Asian giant considers the self-governing island an inalienable part of its territory.
Tsai Ing-wen called the drills unnecessary and said that Taiwan has always been open to constructive dialogue and will work “to bring stability and peace in the region.”