First visit from sitting U.S. Speaker in 25 years . . .
On Tuesday evening, U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei with a Congressional delegation, part of a tour of the Asia Pacific. The trip, which had not been announced in advance, sparked fierce interest and controversy as Pelosi is the highest-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1997. In an op-ed published upon her arrival, Pelosi framed the visit as a demonstration of America’s commitment to Taiwan’s democracy. Before leaving for South Korea less than 24 hours after touching down in Taipei, she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, addressed the legislature, and visited the National Human Rights Museum. Notably, Pelosi also visited the chair of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, with whom she discussed American semiconductor provisions in the CHIPS Act currently under debate in the U.S. Congress.
China launches economic, military countermeasures . . .
China immediately condemned the U.S. for what it sees as a violation of its ‘One China policy’ commitments, which restrict U.S. relations with Taiwan to those of an ‘unofficial’ nature. In a joint statement Wednesday with G7 foreign ministers, the U.S. said its policy toward the island remains unchanged, characterizing visits by legislators as “normal and routine.” China, meanwhile, announced a wide range of import bans against Taiwanese companies this week and launched a series of live-fire military exercises encircling the island. Missile splashdowns were confirmed near Taiwan, including four flying directly over the island for the first time. The operations, which many U.S. observers believe will continue long after Pelosi’s visit, could demonstrate China’s intent to blockade the island and enforce its recent declaration that the Taiwan Strait – a major international shipping channel – does not constitute ‘international waters.’
Taiwanese ponder the picture beyond Pelosi . . .
The major ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan welcomed Pelosi’s visit, a rare show of bipartisan unity. Though a small group of protesters and minor political parties opposed the visit, many in Taiwan who had growing concerns about whether the U.S. would help Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion viewed the visit as a boost of confidence. Many are also indifferent to Pelosi’s visit and the potential Chinese backlash, considering the visit mostly symbolic, Chinese threats as routine, and international distress hyperbolic. However, polling also shows that Taiwanese (and Chinese) are now markedly more concerned about the possibility of military conflict. The potential for escalation remains real.
- ChinaFile: Pelosi in Taiwan: a ChinaFile conversation
- The Diplomat: Pelosi's Taiwan visit: the substance and the aftermath
- The Reporter (報導者): 裴洛西訪台19小時：中國展開「以經圍政」的報復，美國援台法案延後審議