Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan Visit: Chinese Military to Conduct Drills Around Taiwan

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Pelosi in Taipei
In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center pose for photos after she arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP

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Pelosi Discussed 'Free and Secure' Indo-Pacific in Malaysia

Before arriving in Taiwan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped in Malaysia.

Pelosi and her Congressional delegation met with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Foreign Minister Saifuddin to discuss how to advance their shared goals for "a free and secure Indo-Pacific."

In addition to speaking on Malaysian politics, the climate change and COVID-19, leaders discussed security challenges.

"We agreed to continue collaborating on our shared security interests, economic priorities, trade, human trafficking and climate issues," Pelosi said in a statement, adding that the visit was "very productive."

Pelosi Malaysia
This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, meets with Malaysia Parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun at the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Pelosi arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday for the second leg of an Asian tour that has been clouded by an expected stop in Taiwan, which would escalate tensions with Beijing. Malaysia’s Department of Information via AP

Taiwan Calls Chinese Jet Report 'Fake News'

Taiwan called reports that China sent fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait Monday "fake news."

"In response to rumors online that [Chinese People's Liberation Army] Su-35 fighter jets had crossed Taiwan Strait, that is fake news," the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense said in a tweet.

The Taiwan Ministry of National Defense said its military "can fully grasp the dynamics" of the sea and air space between around the Taiwan Strait by using joint intelligence supervision and reconnaissance methods.

While today's rumors "are not true," the Ministry of National Defense said its army has the "determination, ability and confidence" to ensure national security.

"With the attitude of 'being lenient in anticipating the enemy and being strict in resisting the enemy,' the Nationalist army meticulously prepared various plans, dispatched appropriate troops to deal with the enemy's situation in accordance with the provisions on handling emergencies," the Ministry said in a statement.

Chinese Ambassador to U.S. Condemns Visit

The Chinese Ambassador to the United States said he "strongly condemns" Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

Ambassador Qin Gang told CNN that Pelosi's visit is "a serious violation of the one-China principle" and will result in an "escalation of tension" between U.S.-China relations.

Gang said China is "fully justified to do what we must" to defend its sovereignty.

He said the Chinese people will not be "humiliated" and China's response will be "firm, strong and forceful."

Supporters, Protesters Gather in Taipei

Supporters and protesters gathered in the streets of Taipei ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's expected arrival late Tuesday.

Protesters were seen outside of the hotel where Pelosi was expected to stay. An Associated Press photo shows one protester holding a banner that reads "American get out."

Protestor in Taiwan
A protester holds a banner during a protest against the visit of United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, outside a hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug 2, 2022. Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo
Protesters in Taiwan
Demonstrators take part in a protest against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) visit on August 02, 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan. Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

A group also gathered outside of the hotel in support of Pelosi's expected trip. Some banners read, "Madam Speaker Welcome to Taiwan," and "Republic of Taiwan Welcomes U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."

There is also a billboard featuring a photo of Pelosi, welcoming the House Speaker to the country.

Supporters for Pelosi
Supporters hold a banner outside the hotel where U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supposed to be staying in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug 2, 2022. Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo
Pelosi billboard
People walk past a billboard welcoming U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug 2, 2022. Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo

Group of GOP Senators Back Pelosi's Visit

Twenty-six U.S. Senate Republicans voiced their support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan on Tuesday.

The group, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, released a joint statement after Pelosi landed in Taipei.

"For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have travelled to Taiwan," the statement reads.

"This travel is consistent with the United States' One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act."

McConnell previously said the visit was a show of support for Taiwan's democracy.

"I believe she has every right to go," McConnell said during a Senate speech, the Associated Press reports.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Greets Pelosi in Taipei

About two hours ago, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan.

"Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific," Pelosi said in a tweet.

Pelosi in Taipei
In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center pose for photos after she arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP

This trip is expected to escalate tensions between the U.S. and China. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the visit a violation of the one-China policy and promised to defend China's sovereignty.

Pelosi and her delegation were greeted by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu as they landed at the airport.

"Thank you and the congressional delegation for traveling all the way to show your support," the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet, adding that "Taiwan is not alone!"

Pelosi in Taiwan
In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night despite threats from Beijing of serious consequences, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China in 25 years. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP

Before stepping off of her plane, it was not officially confirmed whether the Speaker would visit Taiwan on her Indo-Pacific trip.

Pelosi Plane
A US military aircraft with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on board prepares to land at Songshan Airport in Taipei on August 2, 2022. Pelosi landed in Taiwan on August 2 evening, defying days of increasingly stark warnings from China that have sent tensions between the world's two superpowers soaring. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese Military to Conduct Drills Around Taiwan

The Chinese military said it will conduct "important military exercises" in the areas surrounding Taiwan.

From Thursday to Sunday, the Chinese People Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command is set to conduct military exercises and training activities, including live-fire drills, in six regions surrounding the island of Taiwan.

This will be a joint military operation with maritime and air drills, long-range artillery shooting in the Taiwan Strait and conventional missile tests firing in the seas east of Taiwan, the military said.

This series of "targeted" military operations is a direct response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, according to a Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson.

Chinese Fighter Jet Reports 'Not Surprising,' WH Says

The White House responded to reports of China sending fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait amid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan Tuesday.

White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said he wouldn't be surprised if the reports, released by Chinese state-affiliated media, were true.

"I cannot confirm those reports," he told CNN shortly after Pelosi landed in Taipei. "But it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they did that. It was part of the playbook that we anticipated that they might run."

Kirby added that there has been more "aggressive" Chinese military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait over the last few weeks and months. He told the outlet that the U.S. is "not going to be intimidated," by the increased activity adding that "we [the U.S.] have serious security commitments in the region."

Kirby said there is no reason for Pelosi's visit to "erupt into conflict" or become a pretext for Chinese military action.

John Kirby at WH
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the White House, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP Photo

China Says Trip is 'Like Playing with Fire'

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.

The Foreign Ministry said this trip is a "serious violation" of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués.

"It has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement after Pelosi landed in Taipei.

China said the trip "gravely undermines peace and stability" across the Taiwan Strait and sends a "seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence.'"

"China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious démarche and strong protest to the United States," the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry said Taiwan is an "inalienable" part of Chinese territory under the legal tule of the People's Republic of China.

"The one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations," it said.

As the leader of the U.S. Congress, Pelosi is obliged to observe the one-China policy and should refrained from any official exchanged with "China's Taiwan region," the statement continues.

Therefore, the ministry calls the visit "a major political provocation to upgrade U.S. official exchanges with Taiwan."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the "Taiwan question" is the "most important and most sensitive issue at the very heart of China-U.S. relations."

It accused the U.S. of attempting "to use Taiwan to contain China" and warned officials to uphold the one-China policy and stop "playing the Taiwan card" by emboldening Taiwanese independence.

"[The U.S.] should stop meddling on Taiwan and interfering in China's internal affairs," China said. "These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it."

China promised it will take "all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the U.S. Speaker's visit," blaming all consequences of this visit on the U.S. and "Taiwan independence separatist forces."

Pelosi Says Trip Does Not Contradict U.S. Policy

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her visit to Taiwan "honors America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant Democracy."

"Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region," she said in a statement released moments after she landed in Taipei. "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."

This is a stop along Pelosi's broader Indo-Pacific trip "focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance."

Pelosi added that this visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan and "it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances."

"The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo," she said.

This visit is the first official visit to Taiwan by a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 25 years.

Chinese Fighter Jets Cross Taiwan Strait, Reports

China has reportedly sent fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait, according to a Chinese-state affilated media report.

People's Daily, China reports that Chinese Su-35 fighter jets crossed the strait moments before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei, Taiwan on Tuesday.

A Chinese government official also confirmed the jets were en route.

Pelosi Arrives in Taiwan

The U.S. Air Force plane believed to be carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed in Taiwan.

All eyes have been on a live stream feed of the Songshan Airport in Taipei in anticipation of Pelosi's arrival.

The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs set up its own live stream from the airport showing officials awaiting Pelosi.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will be the first Taiwanese official to receive Pelosi at the airport.

The Foreign Ministry notified the press of an event that will happen at 10:30 p.m. local time, according to DW News reporter William Yang. In the official invitation, there is no mention of Pelosi's name or the nature of the visit, Yang said.

People were tracking Pelosi's plane, flight SPAR19, as it entered Taiwanese airspace on Flighttrader24, which tracks international air traffic in real time.

Local residents began to gather at the airport to await Pelosi's landing.

Videos Show Crowds Waiting For Nancy Pelosi At Taipei Airport

Large crowds of onlookers were seen waiting outside the grounds of Songshan Airport in Taipei late on Tuesday ahead of the anticipated arrival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at around 10:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET).

Despite a week of intense speculation, the speaker's visit hasn't been officially confirmed. Members of the public, however, have been tracking her plane from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where she and her congressional delegation spent the day as part of their tour across Asia.

Jarvis Guo, one of the onlookers at "Airport Alley," a side road popular with plane spotters in the Taiwanese capital, told Newsweek: "This is where everyone usually comes to check out planes at Songshan Airport. Because Pelosi is coming to Taiwan, we wanted to watch this historic landing."

"Everyone cares a lot about it. Even old ladies along the way asked us: 'Are you also here to watch the American plane?'" Guo said.

"We arrived at roughly 8 p.m. At the time, people weren't sure she was going to come, so there weren't a lot of people," he said. "When we started seeing news and live streams from Songshan Airport, that's when the crowd started gathering—now it's like we're at a concert!"

Taiwan Skyscraper Lights Up With Welcome For Nancy Pelosi

Taiwan's iconic skyscraper Taipei 101 has lit up with a message welcoming Nancy Pelosi, before the Taiwanese government has even confirmed a visit by the speaker of the House.

The English words "Speaker Pelosi" and Welcome to TW" were visible on the side of the building after 9 p.m. local time. The message also included "Thank you" and "TW [loves] US," with a heart emoji.

Other notes in Chinese included: "Thank you to our democratic friends," "firm support for Taiwan," "jointly safeguarding the world order" and "eternal U.S.-Taiwan friendship."

The building, which is 101 floors above ground, is often used to convey positive political messages, including Taiwan's gratitude following the donation of American vaccines last year.

Taiwanese media reports said the speaker's plane was due to land at Taipei's Songshan Airport shortly after 10 p.m. local time, before she'll be whisked off to a hotel by a police motorcade.

Taipei 101 Welcomes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Taipei 101, a 508-meter commercial building, surrounded by Taipei and New Taipei City on July 22, 2022. The skyscraper lit up with messages to welcome House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on August 2. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

How U.S. and Chinese Military Presence Near Taiwan Compare

Both the U.S. and China have mobilized military forces to prepare for Pelosi's journey to, and arrival in, Taiwan.

Chinese aircraft and warships have been observed operating around the island, while U.S. assets including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli are operating nearby.

Taiwan sits some 100 miles off the Chinese coast. The People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater—responsible for Taiwan among other areas of operation—is headquartered in the city of Nanjing, in the province of Jiangsu.

It is made up of three armies: the 71st, 72nd, and 73d group armies. The 73rd Group Army is based in Xiamen, directly across from the Taiwan Strait.

Beyond the Chinese mainland, Beijing has assets peppered across the South China Sea—which Pelosi's plane avoided—with several fully militarized man-made islands boasting anti-aircraft weapons, anti-ship missiles, runways suitable for bomber and fighter aircraft, and electronic warfare equipment.

The U.S. had only 30 personnel in Taiwan as of the end of 2020, according to a Voice of America report. Twenty were Marine Corps personnel, with five from the Air Force/Space Force, three from the Navy, and two from the Army.

The U.S. has another 55,000 troops stationed in Japan—the largest footprint outside the U.S.—with another 25,000 in South Korea.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Says People Have 'Woken Up' to Chinese Coercion

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said on Tuesday that the world is waking up to Chinese economic coercion as tensions flared ahead of Nancy Pelosi's expected trip to Taiwan.

The former Chicago mayor told the Associated Press that Beijing is engaged in a range of abuses from "intellectual property theft, to coercion, to debt dependency," and said there are "many worldwide examples where they use their economic market access to force a political change in a country."

"I think everybody's woken up to that," Emanuel said during the interview in Tokyo.

Last week, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa said the "logic of brute force" is gaining traction in the Indo-Pacific region due to China's behavior.

"We are currently standing at a historical crossroads, one fraught with a sense of crisis," Hayashi said. "We are facing a watershed moment."

According to the Financial Times, Japan's military has observed Chinese warships passing between Japan's south-westernmost islands and Taiwan in recent days.

Russia Slams Pelosi's Expected Visit: 'Provocative'

Top Russian officials have described Pelosi's planned visit to Taiwan as a provocation that risks destabilizing the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Pelosi's planned visit "is purely provocative" and "provokes a situation in the region" that could "lead "to an increase in tension," according to the RIA news agency.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the visit is part of a "provocative" plan by the White House "to put additional pressure on Beijing," RIA Novosti reported.

On Telegram, Zakharova—known for her headline-grabbing attacks on the U.S. and its allies—stressed Moscow's support for the "one China" policy. The Chinese Communist Party, she said, is "the only legitimate government that represents all of China, and Taiwan is an integral part of China.

Moscow's close relationship with Beijing has become increasingly important amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with the Kremlin facing a wave of international sanctions. China is one of the few major nations that has expressed sympathy with Moscow's aggression.

Taiwan's President Office Suffers Cyberattacks

The website of Taiwan's Presidential Office was taken down by a series of overseas cyberattacks late on Tuesday, just hours before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reportedly due to arrive in Taipei.

Tingting Liu, of local news station TVBS, reported the distributed denial-of-service attack was "200 times that of a normal day." It crashed the office's website, which was working only intermittently at the time of publication.

A spokesperson for the Presidential Office said that Taiwan faced "continuous compound information warfare." The source of the DDoS attack was not immediately clear. The office has not publicly confirmed Speaker Pelosi's travel plans and did not link the cyberattacks to any particular event or possible retaliation by China.

Nancy Pelosi Heads To Taiwan
The US plane carrying former Health Secretary Alex Azar lands at Songshan Airport in Taipei on August 9, 2020. Houser Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly expected to fly in on a similar aircraft when her congressional delegation lands on August 2, 2022. AFP via Getty Images/CHEN CHUN-YAO/POOL

Flight Tracker Website Down as 300,000 Follow Pelosi's Plane

The Flightradar24 website crashed on Tuesday morning under the strain of Pelosi's journey to Taipei, with hundreds of thousands of users tracking her progress.

Despite many other being unable to access the site, TVBS reporter Tingting Liu said Pelosi's plane had specified its destination as Songshan Airport in Taipei. The aircraft is expected to land at around 10:40 p.m. local time (10:40 a.m. ET).

More than 300,000 users were tracking Pelosi's plane as it flew north towards the Philippine Sea. The House speaker is on a U.S. Air Force C-40C aircraft—a modified version of the Boeing 737—with callsign SPAR19.

Flightradar24 wrote on Twitter: "Because of unprecedented sustained tracking interest in SPAR19, Flightradar24 services are under extremely heavy load. Some users may currently experience issues accessing the site, our teams are working on restoring full functionality to all users as quickly as possible."

SPAR19 left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early on Tuesday morning, taking a circuitous route east over Borneo before turning north towards the Philippines. The route appears set to avoid the contested South China Sea, which has been the source of much tension between Washington, D.C. and Beijing.

South Korea Keeping 'Watchful Eye' on Situation

Regional nations—U.S. allies or otherwise—are closely following Pelosi's planned arrival in Taipei.

Earlier today, South Korean Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesperson Ahn Eun-ju told reporters: "It is not appropriate for the government to comment on the travel plan of personnel from the U.S. Congress."

But an unnamed foreign ministry official told The Korea Herald: "We continue to support peaceful development of our bilateral relationship (with Taiwan), and that stability and peace of the Taiwan Strait is important."

Another unnamed member of the foreign ministry said the South Korean government is "keeping a watchful eye" on the situation.

Pelosi is due to fly to Seoul after Taipei. Following meetings in South Korea, the House speaker will fly to Japan on the last leg of her Asia trip.

What White House and China have said about Possible Visit

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby noted Monday that Pelosi hadn't confirmed any travel plans to Taiwan. Congress is an independent branch of the U.S. government, he said, noting: "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."

The U.S.'s longstanding "one China" policy governing relations with Beijing and Taipei haven't changed, said Kirby, who went on to predict possible missile tests in the Taiwan Strait and other pointed maneuvers by the Chinese military—moves likely to "increase the risk of miscalculation."

China, meanwhile, argues President Joe Biden should have the authority to stop Speaker Pelosi from visiting Taiwan. Chinese officials are taking Pelosi's rumored plans as read; Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, accused the United States of treachery on Tuesday, according to the Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times.

Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's senior spokesperson, told a regular press briefing in Beijing: "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."

NSC Spokesperson John Kirby Downplays Pelosi's Travel
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House on August 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C. While not confirming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reported plans to visit Taiwan, Kirby said the senior lawmaker would be within her right to do so without undermine the U.S.’s longstanding “one China” policy. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Is Nancy Pelosi Going to Taiwan?

Speculation surrounding the House speaker's travel has generated heated discussions among the press in Washington, Beijing and Taipei, but formal confirmation of her plans was still lacking at the time of writing.

Pelosi's press secretary told Newsweek that security protocols meant her journey couldn't be disclosed in advance; the speaker herself only announced she was leading a congressional delegation to Asia on Sunday. The July 31 press release mentioned travel to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, but not Taiwan.

As the California Democrat's highly watched plane left Kuala Lumpur early Tuesday, Taiwanese news outlets began reporting on her arrival in Taipei. The Liberty Times was among those to report that Pelosi would land at Taipei's Songshan Airport at 10:30 p.m. local time. The speaker's events on Wednesday would include meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and members of the island's legislature, before she departs for South Korea in the afternoon, the newspaper said.