Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi made a historic visit to Taiwan despite fears of provoking a military conflict between the US and China .webp 673w” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >< source srcset="https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/resized/590xH/media/img/8/40/756594560733408.webp 590w" type="image/webp" >
Nancy Pelosi (center)
Pelosi flew to Taiwan despite the fears of the US administration
The plane of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan at the capital's Songshan Airport. She became the first high-ranking American politician to visit the island in 25 years. More than 250 thousand people watched her flight on the Flightradar24 service. The site was temporarily down due to a hacker attack.
The fact that Pelosi will still visit partially recognized Taiwan as part of the Asian tour was reported by the Taiwanese media on the evening of August 1. However, neither the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry nor the US State Department confirmed this information. According to Taiwanese media, Pelosi was supposed to arrive in the capital of the island of Taipei late on August 2 and spend the night there, and then visit the Taiwan Legislative Council in the morning to meet with the leadership of the island, including its head Tsai Ing-wen. Later, the American television channel CNN gave similar information, citing high-ranking officials in Washington and Taipei.
The speaker of the House of Representatives is to spend the night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where an entire floor has been allocated for her and members of her delegation: 48 rooms have been booked for Pelosi. This hotel is located in the city center and is known for being the choice of US officials and ex-politicians during their visit to Taiwan— so, the last time former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stayed there. While waiting for Pelosi, a banner with her image appeared near the hotel as a sign of welcome. Taiwanese media have also released footage of the country's Legislative Council laying the red carpet for Pelosi's visit.
According to the Taiwanese publication Reports of China, Taipei withdrew Pelosi's invitation due to too much attention from the world community and growing disagreements between the United States and China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory. However, Pelosi refused to cancel the trip on the pretext that she wants to go down in history and for her this is more important than the potential threat of creating a new Taiwan crisis by analogy with 1996. The US administration and the Pentagon were also against her visit, according to CNBC. According to the channel, Pelosi's visit indicates a deep division in Washington, but Beijing is not ready to accept claims that the actions of the US Congress, whose lower house is headed by Pelosi, must be separated from the policies of the White House.
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However, according to Politico, Pelosi's visit was possible because the Pentagon lowered the potential risk level of such a trip. The publication notes that this indicates an agreement between China and the United States, “which will allow them to continue working, reducing the likelihood of miscalculations during the escalation of bilateral tensions.”
What was said in Washington and Beijing about Pelosi's visit
White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said during a briefing on Monday that Pelosi is eligible to visit Taiwan. He added that Washington would be closely monitoring the potential risks of such a trip and that it was Washington's responsibility to keep Pelosi safe. Kirby stressed that the speaker of the House of Representatives will decide on her own visit to Taiwan and the US administration has no right to dissuade her.
At the same time, according to the coordinator, the potential visit “does not change anything”; and the US will continue to pursue the one-China policy. “Simply put, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a possible visit, consistent with long-standing US policy, into any kind of crisis or conflict, or use it as an excuse to ramp up aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” he concluded.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made similar statements. He also said that the decision to visit Taiwan is up to Pelosi. “If the speaker decides to visit [Taiwan] and China tries to create a crisis of some kind or otherwise increase tension, it will be entirely in Beijing,” he emphasized.
For his part, China's envoy to the UN Zhang Jun said at a press conference that Washington should understand the consequences of such a visit and that it would undermine relations between the countries. Taiwan, according to the diplomat, is an integral part of the territory of China and the issue of the country's territorial integrity— this is the red line for Beijing. “We do not allow anyone to cross this red line. We strongly oppose any separatist movements in the context of Taiwan, as well as interference in China's internal affairs,— Jun said. According to him, Beijing will do everything in its power to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In turn, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned Washington of military retaliation if Pelosi visits Taiwan. “The Chinese side once again warns the American side that the PRC is on high alert, the Chinese army will by no means remain an indifferent observer and will definitely take decisive and effective countermeasures to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
What military measures have been taken by the US, China and Taiwan
Following reports of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) began exercises in the South China Sea. According to the China Maritime Security Administration, from 00:00 on August 2 to 00:00 on August 6, military exercises with live firing will be held in part of the South China Sea. In this regard, Beijing has closed the entry of ships into the waters of a number of areas. Earlier, the PLA has already stepped up exercises in the waters of Fujian Province, separated from Taiwan by a strait. On Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reported that PLA Air Force planes conducted maneuvers in which they approached the so-called median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. Also, several ships of the Chinese Navy remained near this line. On the beaches of Fujian province, eyewitnesses filmed the movement of military equipment and PLA soldiers.
In turn, the United States took off eight F-15 fighters and five tanker aircraft from the American base in Okinawa. Taiwan's army was also put on alert.
In addition to military preparations, China introduced preventive economic measures, suspending more than 3,000 imports to mainland China from more than 100 food companies in Taiwan. According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, the announcement of the suspension of imports was received on the evening of August 1st. China has blacklisted companies involved in the production of tea, dried fruits, honey, cocoa beans and vegetables. The products of some 700 fishing boats were also banned. Beijing pointed out that these companies from the Republic of China violated the rules of customs clearance.