House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left) as she arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 2, 2022.
Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday despite warnings from the Chinese government.
The visit was highly anticipated by people in Taiwan, including media who gathered at the airport.
“It felt like catching a rare Pokémon,” one videographer said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday despite warnings of potential retaliation by the Chinese government.
Crowds of people gathered at Taipei Songshan Airport to watch Pelosi’s arrival, with attendees telling The New York Times that her visit was a “historic moment” for the country, which is still considered by Beijing to be Chinese territory.
“It felt like catching a rare Pokémon,” Henry Chang, a 32-year-old videographer, told The Times. He added that he was unconcerned about the probability of military conflict triggered by the House Speaker’s visit. “I feel like a war simply couldn’t happen — everyone will go on with their lives.”
“This incident demonstrates Taiwan’s independence,” Huang Chao-yuan, a 53-year-old business owner, also told the outlet.
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 2, 2022
Taipei 101, the country’s tallest skyscraper, was illuminated with a message welcoming Pelosi to the island.
—Tingting Liu 劉亭廷 (@tingtingliuTVBS) August 2, 2022
Pelosi wrote on Twitter that her visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.”
—Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 2, 2022
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan comes amid historic tensions between Beijing and Washington, which have been increasingly at odds as China’s influence in the world continues to grow and its military becomes more advanced.
Expanding on why she took the trip despite China’s bellicose rhetoric and warnings, Pelosi in a Washington Post op-ed said visiting Taiwan is an important sign of the US government’s commitment to democracy.
“We cannot stand by as the [Chinese Communist Party] proceeds to threaten Taiwan — and democracy itself,” Pelosi said, adding, “Indeed, we take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy. As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.”
The Chinese government views Taiwan as a breakaway territory, and generally takes issue with foreign engagement with the self-governing island democracy. The US does not have formal diplomatic ties to Taipei, which stems from Washington establishing official relations with Beijing back in 1979. But the US maintains a robust relationship with Taiwan — particularly when it comes to trade — and is its top supplier of arms. Beijing has consistently urged the US to cease weapons sales to the island.
China on Tuesday said it would hold live-fire military drills near Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit.