CHina’s military threats seemed far away for a brief moment as Tsai Ing-wen and Nancy Pelosi sat together at Taiwan’s presidential palace on Wednesday. President Tsai called the “speaker” of the US House of Representatives “one of Taiwan’s truest friends”. Her courage to stand up to anything that undermines democracy is “deeply inspiring and touching”. Taiwan will not be intimidated by military threats.
Pelosi pledged the “rock-solid” support of the United States to Taiwan. This is more important today than ever. “Taiwan’s history is an inspiration for all freedom-loving people,” said the 82-year-old politician. She is the highest-ranking American visitor to Taiwan in 25 years.
As Tsai and Pelosi spoke, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense held a press conference. It condemned the Chinese announcement that Pelosi would hold military maneuvers around Taiwan in the days following the scheduled departure. Beijing has named six sea areas that are closed to other shipping and air traffic from Thursday to Sunday “for security reasons”. This could amount to a sea and air blockade by Taiwan, said a spokesman for the Taiwan Defense Ministry. The designated areas extend into Taiwan’s territorial waters, in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Taipei also spoke of an attempt to “threaten our important ports and urban areas” and to unsettle the people of Taiwan with “military intimidation”. Such an approach will damage China’s international reputation. This shows “his mentality of dealing with differences with violence”. At first, Taiwan refrained from announcing countermeasures. Taipei seems careful not to give China an excuse for escalation.
American ambassador summoned to Beijing
The Ministry of Defense also contradicted Beijing’s account that Su-35 fighter jets crossed the Taiwan Strait at a time when Pelosi was on approach to land in Taipei on Tuesday evening. China’s state media had announced this on all channels minutes before landing in breaking news. “The cross-strait rumors are not true,” Taipei said. A total of 21 Chinese military aircraft flew into the Taiwanese air defense zone on Tuesday. Su-35 fighter jets were therefore not among them.
In protest against Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China summoned the American ambassador to Beijing. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng said America will “pay the price for its own mistakes.” China also imposed further import bans on Taiwanese goods such as citrus fruits and certain types of fish on Wednesday.
Before her scheduled departure in the afternoon, Pelosi wanted to meet human rights activists at a memorial park commemorating the White Terror period in Taiwan. The country was under martial law until 1987. At the time, the Taiwanese government acted harshly and violently against democracy activists. Since the 1990s, Taiwan has developed into one of the most democratic countries in Asia.
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