House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei on Tuesday at 10:44 pm local time.
“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
The Chinese Communist Party condemned Pelosi’s arrival with a series of social media statements on Weibo using the hashtag “#Foreign Ministry’s Response to Pelosi’s Secret Visit to Taiwan#.” The hashtag topped the trending topic rank on the platform.
However, the Chinese military exerted signs of force as warplanes buzzed the Taiwan Straits near the median dividing line on Tuesday. Chinese warships also settled near the unofficial dividing line on Monday and remained.
Four U.S. warships are also in the area on “routine deployments,” according to the U.S. Navy. The USS Ronald Reagan is among them. The aircraft carrier is positioned in the Philippines Sea, east of Taiwan. It’s operating with the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and destroyer USS Higgins, with the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli.
Moscow also condemned Pelosi’s visit as provocative. the Kremlin warned that it threatened to heighten tensions in the Asian region.
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, told reporters “we are absolutely in solidarity with China here. Instead of being respectful, unfortunately, the United States is choosing the path of such a confrontation,” he said. “It doesn’t bode well. We can only express our regret.”
John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House, told CNN on Tuesday the speaker’s visit doesn’t violate any sovereignty issues and that the US will not be intimidated by threats from China. Kirby reiterated that the U.S. did not view Taiwan as independent, but the U.S. was committed to the Taiwan Relations Act and supporting Taiwan’s self-defense.
CNN’s Kate Bolduan questioned Kirby about concerns for Taiwan after Pelosi’s delegation leaves. Kirby acknowledged the administration was “watching it closely” but insisted there was no reason this visit should spark a crisis.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Pelosi was greeted with demonstrations for and against her presence. She is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1997, when then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited the island.