Pelosi makes stop in Taiwan, disregards China's threats
Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who embarked on an Asian tour Sunday, made an unannounced stop in Taiwan late Tuesday, in what was considered a show of support for Taiwan, despite Beijing's warnings not to do so.
The trip makes the 82-year-old California Democrat the first sitting U.S. House speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, when her predecessor Republican Newt Gingrich traveled to Taipei and met with then-President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).
Pelosi's aircraft landed at Taipei Songshan Airport at 10:44 p.m. Tuesday. Her delegation is expected to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Wednesday morning, according to media reports.
The visit by the House speaker, who is second in line to the U.S. presidency, is likely to draw the ire of China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any official interactions that would imply otherwise.
China has threatened to take "resolute and strong measures" should Pelosi enter Taiwan, and some scholars have warned that her visit could spark a direct military confrontation between Washington and Beijing.
China reportedly has been conducting live-fire exercises along its coast over the past few days. Its People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command released a short video Monday on social media, featuring land, sea, and airborne exercises, and it wrote in the post "ready for battle."
China has also temporarily halted imports of products from multiple Taiwanese food companies on Monday -- a move that was interpreted as retaliation for Pelosi's expected visit.
Taiwan, meanwhile, has remained low-key on the possibility of a visit by Pelosi, with the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) saying on July 19 that it had received no information about such plans, which were first reported by the Financial Times that day.
The Financial Times cited six people familiar with the matter as saying that Pelosi was planning to visit Taiwan in August to show support for Taipei as it faces increasing pressure from Beijing.
Earlier Tuesday, Taiwan's lawmakers across party lines expressed support for a visit by Pelosi and called on China not to overreact or misread the trip.
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