Nancy Pelosi Bomb Threat at Taiwan Airport Sparks Investigation

Authorities in Taiwan are investigating a bomb threat made against the island's major international airport after an unsigned letter said it sought to "stop the U.S. House speaker's visit" on August 2.

Taiwan's Aviation Police Bureau said no suspicious items were discovered at Taoyuan airport as of Tuesday afternoon, roughly six hours before Nancy Pelosi was due to arrive at a different airport in the Taiwanese capital, according to local news reports. Airport authorities said they would step up security measures as a precaution.

According to the island's semi-official Central News Agency, the anonymous email sent to Taoyuan International Airport Corporation said three explosive devices would be placed on the grounds of the airport "in order to stop the U.S. House speaker's visit to Taiwan."

The unsigned note was addressed to the airport's customer services at around 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to Taiwan's Apple Daily. The newspaper was among several to report that Pelosi's congressional delegation (CODEL)—thought to be airborne after departing Malaysia—would land at Taipei's Songshan Airport at around 10 p.m.

The contents and metadata of the letter were handed over to investigators, who will attempt to trace the source of the threat, the police said.

Taiwan Investigations Nancy Pelosi Bomb Threat
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attends a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 28, 2022. Pelosi is reportedly due to arrive in Taiwan for a high-profile visit on August 2. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Congressional visits to Taiwan are common, but Pelosi's trip—still unconfirmed by either the speaker herself, Washington or Taipei—carries special significance because of her No. 2 position in the presidential line of succession. If she sets foot on the island on Tuesday, she'll be only the second serving speaker of the House to visit Taiwan in the last 25 years.

China, which opposes official interaction between American officials and their Taiwanese counterparts as a condition of its formal diplomatic relations with the United States, argues the Biden administration is undermining its stated "one China" policy by allowing the visit to take place. The White House insists its policy toward Taiwan hasn't changed.

"We have been clear from the very beginning that she will make her own decisions and that Congress is an independent branch of government. Our constitution embeds a separation of powers. This is well known to the PRC, given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said of Pelosi's reported visit on Monday.

"The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and a speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year," he said.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and hasn't ruled out the use of force against the island to achieve its political objective of "unifying" it with the mainland—a prospect widely rejected by the Taiwanese public. President Xi Jinping of China, who observers expect to secure a third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party this fall, has raised expectations that he could be the one to achieve the political union.

Pelosi's expected visit—backed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle—would almost coincide with the Chinese military's anniversary on August 1. China has announced a series of military drills along its coast this week, a move observers believe aims to signal further displeasure with the California Democrat's trip.

According to Taiwanese publications, Pelosi's itinerary will include an in-person meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and a visit to the island's legislature—both on Wednesday.

At the White House rostrum, Kirby predicted China's live-fire exercises were a potential prelude to escalation that could include the firing of missiles "in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday: "Faced with the U.S.'s reckless disregard for China's repeated and serious representations, any countermeasures taken by the Chinese side will be justified and necessary, which is also the right of any independent and sovereign country."

Taiwan Investigations Nancy Pelosi Bomb Threat
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House on August 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Kirby said there was “no drama” related to the reported visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose rumored trip to the self-governing island has caused displeasure in Beijing. Win McNamee/Getty Images