Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives is the senior most American politician to visit Taiwan in the past 25 years. Ms Pelosi and her delegation said that they arrived in Taiwan to make it “unequivocally clear” that the US would not “abandon” the island.
Taiwan is a self-ruled country, however, China sees it as a breakaway province and has plans for unification.
Ms Pelosi’s interaction with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen came to China’s frustration as they had earlier said that the US would “pay the price” if The Speaker were to visit the nation.
“Forty-three years ago, America made a promise to always stand with Taiwan… today our delegation came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan,” Ms Pelosi said, referring to the Taiwan Relations Act.
Taiwan has become another point of contention between Washington and Beijing amid their rising tensions in recent years.
When Ms Pelosi left the US for her Asia tour, China started amassing troops and equipment in the Fujian Province, adjacent to Taiwan to threaten both the Taiwanese and the Americans over her visit.
Responding to this, the Americans deployed five carrier battle groups in the region to prevent any misadventure by Beijing.
Despite following the ‘One China policy’ (the diplomatic policy recognising only one Chinese Government) the US maintains a strong, robust and unofficial relationship with Taiwan that includes trade and selling weapons.
Ms Pelosi’s visit is viewed as the Americans prompting Taiwan to declare independence and a sign of support.
In her meeting with Ms Tsai at the presidential office, Ms Pelosi called Taiwan an “inspiration to all freedom-loving people”, saying: “The world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America’s decision to preserve democracy here in Taiwan remains iron-clad.”
“Facing deliberately heightened military threats”, adding that it “would not back down and that Taiwan will do whatever it takes to strengthen its self-defence capabilities”, she added.
President Tsai too praised the relationship, saying Taiwan remained a “trustworthy and reliable partner of the US”.
Within hours of Ms Pelosi’s arrival, the Chinese carried out live-fire drills and war games in the air and the sea. Several flights in the Fujian Province were diverted or cancelled and several videos of tanks and armoured vehicles moving across Chinese highways and beaches surfaced, suspected of a potential attack on the island.
As Ms Pelosi prepared to visit the country, Chinese fighters and other warplanes violated Taiwan’s airspace.