Pelosi offers support for Taiwan during visit condemned by China

AFP

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after pledging solidarity and hailing its democracy, leaving a trail of Chinese anger over her brief visit to the self-ruled island.

China demonstrated its outrage over the highest-level US visit to the island in 25 years with a burst of military activity in surrounding waters, summoning the US ambassador in Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Some of China's planned military exercises were to take place within Taiwan's 12 nautical mile sea and air territory, according to Taiwan's defence ministry, an unprecedented move a senior defence official described to reporters as "amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan".

Taiwan scrambled jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, the island's defence ministry said, adding that 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.

Pelosi arrived with a congressional delegation on her unannounced but closely watched visit late on Tuesday, defying China's repeated warnings, in a trip that she said demonstrated unwavering US commitment to Taiwan's democracy.

"Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan," Pelosi told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence - a red line for China.

"Now, more than ever, America's solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that's the message we are bringing here today," Pelosi said during her roughly 19-hour visit.

A long-time China critic, especially on human rights, Pelosi met with a former Tiananmen activist, a Hong Kong bookseller who had been detained by China and a Taiwanese activist recently released by China.

The last US House speaker to go to Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997.

But Pelosi's visit comes amid sharply deteriorating Sino-US relations, and during the past quarter century China has emerged as a far more powerful economic, military and geopolitical force.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control.

The United States warned China against using the visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

In retaliation, China's customs department announced a suspension of imports of citrus fruits and certain fish - chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel - from Taiwan, while its commerce ministry banned export of natural sand to Taiwan.

While there was little sign of protest against US targets or consumer goods, there was a significant police presence outside the US consulate in Shanghai and what appeared to be more security than usual outside the embassy in Beijing.

Fury on the mainland over Pelosi's defiance of Beijing was evident all over Chinese social media, with one blogger railing: "this old she-devil, she actually dares to come!" Pelosi is 82.

More from International

Coming Up on Dubai Eye

  • Nights on Dubai Eye 103.8

    11:00pm - 7:00am

    Dubai Eye complements the conversation with the music you love from the eighties, nineties and newer.

  • Nights on Dubai Eye 103.8

    7:00am - 10:00am

    Dubai Eye complements the conversation with the music you love from the eighties, nineties and newer.

BUSINESS BREAKFAST LATEST

On Dubai Eye