Nancy Pelosi has landed in Taiwan for a controversial visit to the self-ruled island, offering “unwavering commitment” to supporting its democracy, The Guardian reports.
The visit comes amid already heightened tensions with China continuing to escalate.
The US House of Representatives speaker’s plane touched down at Songshan airport in Taipei at about 10:45 pm local time on Tuesday evening.
Pelosi was greeted by Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu and the U.S. representative in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk. The top U.S. lawmaker Pelosi is expected to meet the president, Tsai Ing-wen, tomorrow morning.
China regards Taiwan as its territory. It has repeatedly warned of retaliation if Pelosi visits, saying its military will “never sit idly by”.
The speaker said in a post on Twitter shortly after she arrived that the visit honored the US’s “unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”
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.”
She said that the visit is one of several delegations to take place to Taiwan and that it in no way contradicts long-standing American policy on Taiwan.
Before Pelosi’s plane took off, China’s foreign ministry was already posting online with anger, saying the country “firmly opposes separatist moves towards ‘Taiwan independence’ and interference by external forces.”
A Chinese Ministry spokesperson said that the US “should give up any attempt to play the Taiwan card.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Chinese ministry accused the United States of “reckless disregard,” and claimed it would be held liable and pay the price for hurting China’s sovereignty and security interests.