US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Meets Taiwan President Despite China’s Warnings


US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday during a high-stakes visit that has infuriated Beijing.

At a meeting in Taipei, Tsai thanked Pelosi for her support for democratic values ​​and said she was determined to work with the US on security in the Taiwan Strait and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan makes her the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, angering China, which has called the move a violation of its One China policy and interference in China’s internal affairs.

China has been warning for weeks that Pelosi will not be allowed to visit the disputed island, which Beijing says belongs to its territory.

“Speaker Pelosi is truly one of Taiwan’s most devoted friends,” Tsai said at the ceremony to award Pelosi a medal, the “Order of Auspicious Clouds with a Special Grand Cordon.”

“We are truly grateful to you for making this visit to Taiwan to demonstrate the unwavering support of the United States Congress for Taiwan.”

Tsai also pledged to deepen economic cooperation and supply chain resilience with the US

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, attending a meeting in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament building, on August 3, 2022. Photo by via Getty Images)

Central Press Office | Getty Images News | Getty Images

For her part, Pelosi said she was committed to supporting global peace and further economic cooperation with Taiwan.

“Taiwan’s story is an inspiration to freedom-loving people in the US and around the world,” Pelosi said.

“Out of the crucible of challenge you have forged a thriving democracy, one of the freest in the world, proudly led by a female president.”

Pelosi further said at a press conference after meeting Tsai that it was important to publicize Taiwan’s success as an emblem of democracy and a model for the region. She added that Taiwan was a contrast to the political system in mainland China and Hong Kong, where the promise of “one country, two systems” “has not materialized.”

The medal that Pelosi received from Taiwan is normally awarded to Taiwanese citizens for services to society, but can also be awarded to “foreigners to promote diplomatic relations” under Taiwanese law.

Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday evening after leaving Malaysia and was expected to leave on Wednesday evening.

Political experts have weighed in on the visit, saying it was problematic and a mistake.

“The conflict is escalating and it is escalating at a rapid pace. China will not take reckless steps… [but] this kind of confrontation could cause a very unfortunate accident,” Yale University senior fellow Stephen Roach told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

Former US Ambassador to China Max Baucus also said in a separate interview that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a mistake.

“Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan raises tensions, and unnecessarily,” he said.

‘I think it’s dangerous. I think it’s reckless.’

China’s Warnings

Leading up to the visit, the Chinese military held fire drills all day on Saturday, just 80 miles from Taiwan.

Beijing has also banned the import of various goods from Taiwan, including Taiwanese sweets and cookies.

It also halted imports of grapefruit, lemon, orange and some other citrus fruits, frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan and natural sand exports as of Wednesday.

Ahead of Pelosi’s visit, Hua Chunying, China’s assistant foreign minister, said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a “major political provocation”.

“Since President Pelosi is the incumbent leader of the US Congress, her visit to and activities in Taiwan, in whatever form and for whatever reason, is a major political provocation to enhance US official exchanges with Taiwan,” he said. Hua in her tweets.

While China’s military response to Pelosi’s visit has raised the likelihood of a major near-term security crisis in the Taiwan Strait from 25% to 30%, the likelihood of a major conflict remained low, said Neil Thomas, political analyst at the Eurasia Group in an earlier post. the visitors.

‘Conflict remains very low’

Eurasia Group expects Beijing’s response to be “unprecedented but not unhinged,” according to Tuesday’s note.

“However, these PLA exercises are more performative signals than preparations for war; crisis is not yet a baseline scenario and the likelihood of kinetic conflict remains very low,” said Neil Thomas, senior analyst at the Eurasia Group, referring to the Chinese military, the People’s Office. Liberation Army.

“The PLA did not interfere with Pelosi’s flight to Taiwan and says the planned exercises are intended as a ‘serious deterrent’ to the US and a ‘serious warning’ to Taiwan,” Thomas said.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

On Tuesday, during China’s foreign ministry’s daily press conference, Hua added that China would closely monitor Pelosi’s route.

“And if the US continues on the wrong path, we will take strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security interests,” Hua said.

Officially, the Biden administration has been careful in recent weeks not to say directly whether the president agreed with Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan. But unofficially, the White House and Pentagon made little secret of their opposition to it.

Future displays of support for Taiwan by US and allied officials — including visits, dialogues and defense cooperation — are now likely to receive a harsher response.

Biden’s approach to China is one that seeks a stable, predictable relationship with the US’s largest trading partner, while also recognizing that Washington and Beijing are strategic adversaries.

Biden’s attentiveness could also mitigate any potential conflict, Thomas added, but warned the potential for a crisis would not diminish anytime soon.

“China could reveal further reactions in the coming days, weeks and even months as the 20th party congress approaches in October or November,” the Eurasia analyst said.

“Several of Beijing’s key institutions have made unusual statements condemning Pelosi’s visit and vowing to defend China’s claim to Taiwan.”

“Future displays of support for Taiwan by US and allied officials — including visits, dialogues and defense cooperation — are now likely to receive a harsher response,” he warned.

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