China cannot stop world leaders from visiting Taiwan, says US Speaker Pelosi

12:15 AM | 4 Aug, 2022
China cannot stop world leaders from visiting Taiwan, says US Speaker Pelosi
Source: Nancy Pelosi (Twitter)

TAIPEI – US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan after a brief but controversial visit on Wednesday.

Pelosi, the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, left on Wednesday after meeting leaders in the capital Taipei. As part of a wider Asian tour, her visit sparked fury in Beijing after she ignored the warnings not to travel to the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the US of "violating China's sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy" and said : "Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished."

In a statement released after her visit, Pelosi said China cannot "prevent world leaders or anyone from travelling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, thighlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration".

The senior US Democrat's visit was not approved by her party colleague, President Joe Biden, who had said the American military felt it was "not a good idea right now" amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

The US walks a diplomatic tightrope with its Taiwan policy. On the one hand, it abides by the "One China" policy, which recognises only one Chinese government, giving it formal ties with Beijing and not Taiwan.

On the other, it maintains a "robust unofficial" relationship with the island, which includes selling weapons for Taiwan to defend itself.

As speaker of the US House of Representatives, Pelosi is the second in line to the US presidency, behind Vice-President Kamala Harris.

In response to the trip, China announced what it called "necessary and just" military drills in seas around 10 miles (16km) from Taiwan.

The exercises, which will begin on Thursday and last for five days, will take place in some of the world's busiest waterways and will include "long-range live ammunition shooting".

Also, Taiwan scrambled jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone.

Taiwanese Defence Ministry said 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.