Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan branded 'extremely dangerous' by China

2 August 2022, 23:28

Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan
Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

China has accused US Speaker Nancy Pelosi of "playing with fire" with her visit to Taiwan.

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Beijing officials have warned that Ms Pelosi's landmark trip to the island nation, which China claims is its own, is "extremely dangerous.

The Chinese government said in a statement that "those who play with fire will perish by it", adding that its army will carry out live-fire exercises. Taiwan said on Tuesday evening that Chinese aircraft had entered its airspace.

A protest against Nancy Pelosi's arrival in Taiwan
A protest against Nancy Pelosi's arrival in Taiwan. Picture: Getty

Ms Pelosi is the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years. She is set to meet Taiwanese politicians, including President Tsai Ing-Wen, on the visit, part of a wider Asian tour.

Read more: Beijing 'masses tanks on beaches' opposite Taiwan ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei

China's latest display of aggression comes after the army rolled tanks out onto beaches opposite Taiwan in a show of force after Ms Pelosi landed in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital.

China's threats of retaliation have driven concerns of a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides, that could upset global markets and supply chains.

A US government spokesperson said that President Joe Biden "respects" Ms Pelosi's decision to visit Taiwan, in response to a question about whether he agrees with it.

John Kirby said the US has no interest in deepening tensions with China and "will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling".

Read more: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stumbles over own policy on sending weapons to Taiwan

Ms Pelosi said in a statement: "By traveling to Taiwan, we honor our commitment to democracy: reaffirming that the freedoms of Taiwan — and all democracies — must be respected."

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland. The US maintains informal relations and defence ties with Taiwan even as it recognises Beijing as the government of China.

Beijing sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island's decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they do not support.

Ms Pelosi, head of one of three branches of the US government, is the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.