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Pelosi Arrives in Taiwan, Defying China

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Demonstrators gather in support of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 2, 2022.

. congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived late Tuesday in Taiwan, defying warnings by China, which has threatened a military response to the visit.
Pelosi is expected to meet Wednesday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior lawmakers.
For weeks, media have speculated whether Pelosi, a prominent China critic, would go ahead with the Taiwan stop.
This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, tours the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 2, 2022.

China has warned the visit would be an unacceptable violation of what it sees as its sovereignty over the self-ruled island.
Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, on Monday warned the country’s military will not “sit idly by” but will take “strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Planes, ships on the move
Early Tuesday, several Chinese warplanes and warships neared the median line in the Taiwan Strait, according to an unnamed source quoted by the Reuters news agency.
The source said the Chinese aircraft conducted “very provocative” tactical moves of briefly “touching” the unofficial dividing line and circling back to the other side of the strait. Taiwan dispatched aircraft to monitor the situation, Reuters added.
White House officials on Monday refused to confirm Pelosi’s visit but urged China to refrain from any military provocations.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing U.S. policy into some sort of crisis conflict or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” said John Kirby, a White House National Security Council official.
Kirby expressed concern China could respond by firing missiles around Taiwan, conducting large-scale military exercises, or sending a large number of planes across the median line. China could also pursue “spurious legal claims,” such as asserting that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway, he said.

Split after civil war
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war, with the defeated nationalist forces fleeing to Taiwan and setting up a government that later grew into a vibrant democracy.
Since then, China’s Communist Party has vowed to take Taiwan, using force if necessary, even though the island has never been ruled by the Communist Party.

The United States formally cut official relations with Taiwan in 1979 when it switched diplomatic recognition to China. However, the United States continued to maintain unofficial relations with Taiwan and supplies it with defensive weapons as mandated by the U.S. Congress.

For decades, that balancing act helped preserve cross-strait peace, but in recent years Chinese leaders have grown concerned Washington may be shifting toward more explicit support for Taiwan.
On three occasions, United States President Joe Biden has indicated the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded.

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