The U.S House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday, despite China’s repeated threats.
Pelosi arrived at the island’s capital, Taipei, on Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit Taiwan. Exiting a U.S. Air Force passenger jet at Taipei’s international airport, Pelosi was welcomed by Taiwan’s Foreign Minister and other Taiwanese and American officials. “We must stand by Taiwan”, she said in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on her arrival in Taiwan, adding that “It is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats”.
How did China respond?
Beijing’s response was instant. According to China’s official Xinhua News, the People’s Liberation Army plans to conduct live-fire drills from August 4 to August 7 in six different areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also had strong words for Washington over the visit. “Some American politicians are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan”, Wang said in a statement that described the U.S. as “the world’s biggest saboteur of peace”.
Talking out of both sides of the mouth?
Washington insists that Beijing has no valid cause for concern, as president Biden’s administration says the U. S. remains committed to the ‘one-China policy’, which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan. Events in the U.S. capital are, however, not so reassuring. In a rare bipartisan move, and as a direct response to China’s rhetoric, American senators are proposing legislation to strengthen Taiwan’s defense.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will discuss the “Taiwan Policy Act,” which has the backing of both Republicans and Democrats. With approximately $4.5b in security aid over the next four years, the package would improve Taiwan’s defense capabilities while also offering further backing for the island’s democratic government and civil society. Additionally, the bill would recognize Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally,” opening the door to additional benefits in security and trade.