World · August 5, 2022

Nancy Pelosi says the US will not allow China to isolate Taiwan, as China holds military exercises


US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised Friday that the US would not allow Taiwan’s isolation, as Beijing stepped up military exercises and warplane raids after her visit to the island.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on the last leg of his Asia tour, Pelosi said China has tried to isolate Taiwan from the international community but would not stop US officials from traveling there.

“We will not allow (China) to isolate Taiwan,” he said. “They aren’t doing our travel plans.”

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Wednesday, when he met with President Tsai Ing-wen and other leaders, infuriated the Chinese Communist Party, which sees the self-governing democratic island as its territory, despite never having controlled it.

The Chinese military conducts conventional missile tests in waters off Taiwan's east coast on August 4, 2022.

Prior to the visit, Beijing had warned that it would take “forceful measures” if Pelosi went ahead, and on his departure he launched live-fire military exercises and sent missiles to Taiwan for the first time.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said at 11am on Friday several Chinese military jets and warships conducted exercises around the Taiwan Strait and crossed the midline, the midway point between the island and mainland China.

The Taiwanese military responded with radio alarms, air patrol, military ships and ground missile systems, the ministry said.

On Thursday, China sent 22 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), all crossing the midline.

A number of countries, including the G7 grouping of some of the world’s largest economies, have criticized China’s exercises, urging Beijing not to change the status quo in the region.

In his comments on Friday, Pelosi said the visit to Taiwan was about maintaining the status quo.

“It’s about the Taiwan Relations Act, US-China policy, all the legislative acts and agreements that have established what our relationship is: having peace in the Taiwan Strait and making the status quo prevail,” he said.

Pelosi also dismissed suggestions from some critics that his visit had more to do with burning down his legacy than benefiting the island, calling the claim “ridiculous.”

He pointed to Taiwan’s “free and open democracy”, successful economy and relatively progressive LGBTQ rights. “It’s not about me, it’s about them,” she added. “It is about Taiwan and I am proud to have worked over the years to show the concerns they have with mainland China.”

Meanwhile, on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for the immediate suspension of the Chinese exercises, calling them “a serious matter concerning the security of our country and its people”.

Previously, Japan filed a formal complaint after five Chinese missiles landed in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Due to worsening relations, China canceled a scheduled meeting between Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers.

On Thursday, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Deng Li summoned envoys from European countries, the EU and Japan to China to protest their statements on Taiwan.

The G7 statement “distorts the facts” and is a “blatant political provocation,” said Deng, who accused the countries involved of interfering with China’s internal affairs.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was the first by a speaker sitting in the House in 25 years, since former President Newt Gingrich’s visit in 1997. His tour of Asia also included stops in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.