By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Pelosi – the most senior American to visit the democratically self-ruled island in 25 years – said she had reiterated “iron-clad” support for Taiwan’s democracy.
China, which claims the island as its territory, responded to the visit by announcing three days of live-fire exercises in some of the world’s busiest waterways.
Taiwan said several of China’s military drills were to take place within its 12 nautical mile sea and air territory in an unprecedented move that it called “a sea and air blockade” of the island.
Additionally, Taiwan was forced to scramble jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese military aircraft in its air defense zone, the island’s defense ministry said.
At least 22 reportedly crossed the “median line” separating the self-ruled island from China through the middle of the Taiwan Strait amid rising tensions. Neither side’s aircraft usually cross the median line.
The median line crossing put Chinese aircraft at least 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Taiwan’s coast but was seen as a clear warning by Beijing of its disapproval of Taipei’s policies.
MORE MILITARY MIGHT
Taiwan faced several operations by the Chinese air force near its territory, but China’s latest Chinese mission included a whopping 16 Chinese Su-30 fighters and 11 other jets, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.
China also demonstrated its outrage over Pelosi’s visit by summoning the American ambassador to Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan, officials said.
Even before Pelosi arrived, Beijing ramped up military and political pressure to try and force the island to accept Chinese rule.
Taiwan rejects China’s claims to the island and vows to defend itself, raising Western concerns about an imminent military conflict in the region.
Despite the threats, Pelosi met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei and praised Taiwan as an island of resilience.
Pelosi told reporters that American commitment to democracy here was iron-clad, and she clarified that the U.S. wouldn’t accept China’s perceived intimidation towards Taiwan.
WARNING TO CHINA
In separate remarks, she warned that China could not “prevent world leaders or anyone from traveling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration.”
Her visit was not approved by her Democratic Party colleague, President Joe Biden.
He had said the American military felt it was “not a good idea right now” amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
Yet, in a jarring twist, Pelosi is enjoying a rare outpouring of applause from even Republicans for her trip. More than half of the 50 Republicans in the Senate signed a statement lauding Pelosi and released it right after she landed on the island.
“We support Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan,” the statement says. “For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy to which we are committed.”
Yet Pelosi’s trip prompted more saber-rattling from China as the army of the 1.4 billion people moved closer to Taiwan, home to just 23 million residents.
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