House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed Taiwan as a model for democracy and a “strong contrast to what’s happening on mainland China” as she met Wednesday with President Tsai Ing-wen as part of her high-stakes visit to the island.
Mrs. Pelosi pledged to maintain U.S. solidarity with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province, while preserving the “one China” policy that American leaders have maintained for decades to avoid tumult in the region.
“Our solidarity with you is more important than ever, as you defend Taiwan and their freedom,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, Mrs. Pelosi was even more forceful in her defense of Taiwan as she received a civilian honor from the president known as the Order of Propitious Clouds.
“Our delegation, [of] which I’m very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear: We will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan, and we’re proud of our enduring friendship,” she said.
The speaker lifted up the Taiwanese people and hailed their accomplishments while trying to limit any punishment from the mainland. Furious over the visit, China hit with cyberattacks and import restrictions as punishment for hosting a prominent U.S. leader.
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“We’re not here to talk about mainland China,” she said. “We’re here to talk about Taiwan.”
She said lawmakers visited the island earlier this year without much “fuss” and her visit should be a net positive for the island.
Mrs. Pelosi pointed to the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act as a new law that will spur economic growth in both countries.
“This is something that opens the door for us to, again, have good, better economic exchanges,” she said. “I know that some Taiwan businesses, significant ones, are already planning to invest in manufacturing in the United States.”
Mrs. Pelosi theorized that Chinese President Xi Jinping is saber-rattling because he has “insecurities” about his own political situation.
“I think that whatever China was going to do, they will do in their own good time. What excuse they may use to do it is another thing, but you really know more about that than I do,” she said.
The speaker also said China should not stand in the way of future visits by American dignitaries but said it has been difficult to host foreign leaders in Congress, citing COVID-19 for the lack of joint sessions.
“I just hope that it’s really clear that while China has stood in the way of Taiwan participating and going to certain meetings, that they understand that they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan. It’s a show of friendship, of support, but also a source of learning about how we can work together better in collaboration,” she said.
Mrs. Pelosi used her remarks to focus on Taiwan as a positive force in the struggle between democracy and autocracy and complimented the island for being technologically advanced.
She also pointed to its relative success in boxing out the coronavirus through a savvy public health response.
“Probably one of the highest rates of vaccination, but also the lowest number of deaths from COVID. A real model for the world,” she said. “It’s about science, but it’s also about community acceptance of a plan. And that is called leadership.”