Pelosi: China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan
Tokyo(Japan)- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that China will not isolate Taiwan by preventing U.S. officials from traveling there.
She made the remarks in Tokyo on the final leg of an Asia tour highlighted by a visit to Taiwan that infuriated China.
The Chinese have tried to isolate Taiwan, Pelosi said, including most recently by preventing the self-governing island from joining the World Health Organization.
“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there,” she said.
Pelosi said her trip to Taiwan was not intended to change the status quo for the island but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait. She also praised Taiwan’s hard-fought democracy, including its progress in diversity and success in technology and business, and criticized China’s violations of trade agreements, proliferation of weapons and human rights problems
Pelosi, the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said Wednesday in Taipei that the U.S. commitment to democracy on the island and elsewhere “remains ironclad.”
Pelosi and five other members of Congress arrived in Tokyo late Thursday after visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.
In Taipei on Wednesday, Pelosi said the American commitment to democracy in Taiwan and elsewhere “remains ironclad.” She became the first House speaker to visit the island in 25 years.
China, which claims Taiwan and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary, called her visit to the island a provocation and on Thursday began military drills, including missile strike training, in six zones surrounding Taiwan, in what could be its biggest since the mid-1990s.
Pelosi said that China had launched the “strikes probably using our visit as an excuse.”
Earlier Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a “grave problem” that threatens regional peace and security after five ballistic missiles launched as part of the drills landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and her congressional delegation, said the missile launches need to be “stopped immediately.”
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said five missiles landed on Thursday in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan’s main islands. He said Japan protested to China, saying the missiles “threatened Japan’s national security and the lives of the Japanese people, which we strongly condemn.”
The Defense Ministry later said it believed the other four missiles, fired from China’s southeastern coast of Fujian, flew over Taiwan.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, attending a regional meeting in Cambodia, said China’s actions are “severely impacting peace and stability in the region and the international community, and we demand the immediate suspension of the military exercises.”
Japan has in recent years bolstered its defense capability and troop presence in southwestern Japan and remote islands, including Okinawa, which is about 700 kilometers (420 miles) northeast of Taiwan. Many residents say they worry their island will be quickly embroiled in any Taiwan conflict. Okinawa is home to the majority of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact.
At the breakfast earlier Friday, Pelosi and her congressional delegation also discussed their shared security concern over China, North Korea and Russia, and pledged their commitment to working toward peace and stability in Taiwan, Kishida said. Pelosi was also to hold talks with her Japanese counterpart, lower house Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda.
Japan and its key ally, the U.S., have been pushing for new security and economic frameworks with other democracies in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe as a counter to China’s growing influence amid rising tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
Days before Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, a group of senior Japanese lawmakers, including former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, visited the island and discussed regional security with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Ishiba said Japan, while working with the United States to prevent conflict in the Indo-Pacific, wants a defense agreement with Taiwan.