Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. Speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency, has arrived in Taiwan with a congressional delegation onboard a Boeing C-40C aircraft. Her visit comes during a period of escalated tensions between the USA and China in which the Mainland has threatened “targeted military actions” for the high-level visit to an island it claims as its own.
Brushing Off Chinese Threats, Pelosi Arrives In Taipei On Boeing C-40C
The US Air Force Boeing C-40C, which is a military version of the popular 737 model, took off from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) near Kuala Lumpur earlier today to make the 2,000 mile journey to Songshan Airport (TSA) outside Taipei. While this would normally be a four hour flight, today it took seven hours because the flight plan took deliberate steps to stay clear of Mainland airspace.
Her flight, SPAR19, was so heavily tracked that it crashed Flightradar24:
Because of unprecedented sustained tracking interest in SPAR19, Flightradar24 services are under extremely heavy load. Some users may currently experience issues accessing the site, our teams are working on restoring full functionality to all users as quickly as possible. pic.twitter.com/dsFrlQ67zr
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 2, 2022
China has warned that there will be disastrous consequences for Pelosi’s visit, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian even threatening a military response:
“We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
But the Biden Administration has pushed back, with a White House spokesperson noting:
“We have been clear from the very beginning that she will make her own decisions, and that Congress is an independent branch of government. Our Constitution embeds a separation of powers. This is well known to the PRC, given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations. The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and the speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before, without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year.”
In a recent gaffe, Biden claimed he would defend Taiwan if attacked, which was quickly walked back as the U.S. continues to abide by an ambiguous One China policy.
Pelosi and her colleagues did not make a special trip to Taiwan. They are on a much longer Asian trip to promote economic development and U.S. interests in the region, including stops in:
- South Korea
This represents the first visit of a House Speaker since Newt Gingrich visited in 1997. Taipei 101, Taiwan’s tallest skyscraper, lit up with a message in English and Chinese welcoming Pelosi to Taiwan.
Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues have touched down in Taipei and have been welcomed by Taiwanese officials. Her choice to defy Beijing by visiting Taipei is sure to further sour relations between the USA and China, but what exactly China will do remains to be seen. In the last few minutes it has vowed, “targeted military actions” in response, so fasten your seatbelts.