China says Washington will “pay the price” for official’s visit to self-governed island, despite Beijing’s warnings
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has concluded her controversial visit to Taiwan with a plane carrying America’s third-ranking official taking off from Songshan Airport in Taipei on Wednesday.
Pelosi arrived on the self-governed island on Tuesday despite stern warnings from Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory under the One China policy.
During her brief stay in Taipei, the Speaker of the House promised that the US “will not give up our commitment to Taiwan”, describe it as “one of the freest societies in the world.”
The 82-year-old addressed the local parliament, met with the island’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, and was awarded one of Taiwan’s highest civilian honors – the Order of Auspicious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon – for her determined attitude in “ensuring freedom, democracy and human rights.”
China’s Foreign Ministry has condemned Pelosi’s trip, saying it: “Serious breach of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and will be a “serious impact on the political foundation of China-US relations.”
The Department also called on US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to file an official protest, telling him Washington will “pay the price” before the move.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense has announced a series of military exercises and live fire drills in six maritime areas and in the Chinese-controlled airspace around the island.
Pelosi is the most senior US official to have traveled to the area since a trip by then US House speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Despite Beijing’s recognition as the only legitimate authority in China since 1979, the US maintains strong unofficial ties with Taiwan, sells weapons to Taipei and supports its pursuit of sovereignty.
The island of 23.5 million inhabitants, which officially calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), has been self-governing since 1949, but has never officially declared its independence from Beijing.