- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen met United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
- Tsai presented the speaker with a civilian honour, the Order of the Propitious Clouds.
- Pelosi said US will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.
Nancy Pelosi Taiwan visit: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen met United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and welcomed her to the country. Thanking Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, Tsai presented the speaker with a civilian honour, the Order of the Propitious Clouds. “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said. “We will firmly uphold our nation's sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defence for democracy,” she added.
Pelosi, meeting leaders in Taiwan despite warnings from China, said Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in a visiting delegation are showing they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island. “Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen. “America's determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad,” she said.
Shortly after Pelosi landed, China announced live-fire drills that would start Tuesday night and a four-day exercise beginning Thursday in waters on all sides of the island. China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises around the island and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation touched down in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, on Tuesday night.
Pelosi is visiting a human rights museum in Taipei later Wednesday before she departs for South Korea, the next stop on an Asia tour that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. Pelosi, who is leading the trip with five other members of Congress, met earlier Wednesday with representatives from Taiwan's legislature.
“Madam Speaker's visit to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defence of upholding human rights and consolidation of the values of democracy and freedom,” Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan's legislature, said in welcome.
Pelosi's trip has heightened US-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-level position as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
China's air force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 warplanes, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan. Pelosi noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island's democracy.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to tone down the volume on the visit, insisting there's no change in America's longstanding “one-China policy,” which recognises Beijing but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taipei.
(With agency inputs)