US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan despite threats from China, making her the highest-ranking US politician to visit the island in 25 years.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that Pelosi’s military plane arrived at Songshan airport at 10:43 p.m. local time.
China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, has vowed an unspecified military response ahead of Pelosi’s visit that risks sparking a crisis among the world’s largest economies. President Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden last week that he would “resolutely defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that “anyone who plays with fire will get burned”.
Traders prepare for Bad news ahead of the visit, with equities sliding and haven assets like the yen and Treasuries climbing. While there is little indication that China is planning an all-out invasion of Taiwan, Beijing has responded to previous visits by foreign officials with a large number of sorties into the receiving zone. form of Taiwan’s air defense or across the median line dividing the strait.
Taiwan had faced cyberattacks before Pelosi’s arrival, with the president’s office saying it suffered a 20-minute wave of attacks in the early evening, 200 times worse than usual. . The State Department website also appears to be periodically disrupted.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the island’s military was ready to send “appropriate armed forces according to the threat”, adding that it was “determined, confident and capable of ensuring national security.”
Pelosi is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan since House Speaker Newt Gingrich did so in 1997. That came shortly after the last major crisis in the Taiwan Strait, when China sent missiles into the sea near ports and then President Bill Clinton sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area.
Pelosi will visit Taiwan’s parliament on Wednesday morning, have lunch with President Tsai Ing-wen and also meet with pro-democracy activists, according to local media reports. The unannounced stop in Taiwan comes after Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Singapore and Malaysia. They will stand next to South Korea and Japan – two staunch US allies.
While the White House has sought to defuse rising tensions with China, insisting that Congress is an independent branch of government, Beijing has rejected that argument. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying declared the visit “provocative” and said any retaliatory measures from Beijing would be “reasonable”. However, she left the door open for a possible face-to-face summit between Biden and Mr. Xi later this year.
Taiwan remains the most sensitive issue between the US and China, with the potential to one day spark a military conflict. In May, Biden said that Washington would intervene to defend Taiwan against any attack from China, although the White House later clarified what he meant by the US providing weapons, in line with existing agreements.
Chinese media outlets including the Communist Party’s Global Times have suggested the People’s Liberation Army will respond positively to Pelosi’s trip.
Under an agreement reached in 1978 to normalize relations between China and the United States, Washington agreed to recognize only Beijing as the seat of the Chinese government, and to acknowledge — but not endorse — the position of the Chinese government. China that has only one China and Taiwan is part of China. .
The United States has insisted that any reunification between the island and the mainland must happen peacefully, while providing Taiwan with state-of-the-art weapons while being deliberately vague about whether American forces help defend against a Chinese attack.
Visits by lower-ranking US lawmakers have also prompted China to respond militarily. Last November, Chinese warplanes flew around the east side of the island following a visit by a US congressional delegation.
Register Fortune feature email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews and surveys.