The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei on Tuesday, which was an important demonstration of support for Taiwan, despite China’s threats of retaliation in connection with the visit.
Pelosi’s stay in Taipei is the first visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives to Taiwan in 25 years. Her trip comes at the height of U.S.-China relations and despite warnings from the Biden administration against stopping in Taiwan.
Pelosi and the congressional delegation that accompanied her said in a statement Tuesday that the visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s dynamic democracy.”
“Our discussions with Taiwan’s leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and advancing our common interests, including promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said. “America’s solidarity with Taiwan’s 23 million people is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
China responded by announcing military exercises and bellicose rhetoric, warning that the speaker’s visit “has a serious impact on the political basis of Sino-American relations and seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“This seriously undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and sends the wrong signal to separatist forces about “Taiwan independence,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “China strongly opposes and strongly condemns this, and has also made a serious demarche and a strong protest to the United States.”
The Chinese military has said it is on “high alert” and will conduct exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s trip, saying in statements that they are launching a series of “targeted military operations to counter the situation.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Tuesday 21 Chinese military aircraft had invaded its Air defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). In response, the Taiwanese military issued radio warnings and deployed anti-aircraft missile systems to monitor the actions, he added.
China often sends military aircraft to Taiwan’s self-proclaimed air defense. The largest number of incursions ever recorded was on October 4 last year, when 56 military aircraft flew into the area on the same day. Air defense is established unilaterally and differs from sovereign airspace, which, in accordance with international law, is defined as extending 12 nautical miles from the coastline of the territory.