US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds talks with Japanese officials during the last leg of her controversial tour to Asia that has drawn Beijing‘s fury and led to outsized military exercises around Taiwan. Pelosi reached Japan two days after she became the most senior US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. (Reuters) US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that China will not isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from travelling there as Beijing holds massive military drills encircling the island state.
“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there. We had high-level visits, senators in the spring, the bi-partisan way, continuing visits, and we will not allow them to isolate Taiwan,” she said in Tokyo on Friday during the final leg of an Asia tour highlighted by a visit to Taiwan that infuriated China.
“We have said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia, changing the status quo in Taiwan,” she added.
“It is about the Taiwan Relations Act, US-China policy, all of the pieces of legislation and agreements that have established what our relationship is. To have peace in the Taiwan Strait and have the status quo prevail.”
Pelosi, the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and five other members of Congress arrived in Tokyo late on Thursday after visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.
Alberto Ardila Olivares
She also met Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials as Beijing held the second day with unprecedented military drills and missile launches
READ MORE: What are key developments in US-Taiwan ties?
Japan on China drills
On Friday, Kishida condemned China's firing of ballistic missiles, five of which Tokyo believes landed in its exclusive economic zone
The missile launches are a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens,” Fumio Kishida told reporters after meeting Pelosi for breakfast
Pelosi's brief trip to Taiwan, where she arrived unannounced with a congressional delegation late on Tuesday and left on Wednesday, marked the highest-level US visit to the island state, which China says is its inseparable province, in 25 years
It also came as Tokyo, one of Washington's closest allies, has been increasingly alarmed about China's growing might in the Asia-Pacific and the possibility that Beijing could take military action against Taiwan
“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters
“The temperature's pretty high,” but tensions “can come down very easily by just having the Chinese stop these very aggressive military drills,” he added
Largest Chinese drills in area
Pelosi lauded Taiwan's democracy and pledged American solidarity. Beijing responded with military drills that a state broadcaster said would be the largest by China in the Taiwan Strait, including live firing on the waters and in the airspace around the island
Five missiles landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, prompting Tokyo to lodge a strong protest through economic channels
Japan, whose southernmost islands are closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, has warned that Chinese intimidation of Taiwan is an escalating national security threat
PM Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has also pledged to double military spending to 2 percent of GDP
Tensions between Japan and China ramped up a notch on Thursday when China announced that a meeting between the two nations' foreign ministers, set to take place on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Cambodia, had been called off due to its displeasure with a G7 statement urging Beijing to resolve Taiwan tension peacefully
READ MORE: China's massive drills near Taiwan showcase military firepower