Nancy Pelosi has on Tuesday flown to Taiwan and defied China’s threats, making her the highest-ranking elected US official to do so since 1997.
China repeatedly threatened that it would stand “idly by” if Pelosi made the trip, going so far as threatening military action.
The White House on Monday hit back and said the US would not be intimidated by these threats.
US President Joe Biden initially opposed Pelosi’s trip, claiming it would unnecessarily escalate already heightened tensions with Beijing. But with the separation of powers in the US, Pelosi is free to make her own travel decisions, something the White House has stressed to try to lower tensions with China.
Shortly after landing, Pelosi released a statement saying her visit honors Washington’s “unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.”
And she was quick to reiterate that the visit “in no way contradicts longstanding US policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.”
She added: “The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”
Pelosi said America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan “is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
The Pentagon and other American security agencies provided Pelosi and her team with the proper intelligence and security information generally granted to US officials traveling overseas.
The US military also upped its presence and movement of forces in the Indo-Pacific ahead of Pelosi’s anticipated visit, which was not confirmed by any US officials beforehand.
According to officials, Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were in the Philippine Sea on Monday.
Despite the rhetoric from China, the US has said there was no reason for China to take any action upon Pelosi’s visit. US officials have reiterated that Washington’s One China policy has not changed.