United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after her one-day visit to the country, AFP reported. The visit had drawn criticism from Beijing considers as a island that is to be unified with the Chinese mainland.
Shortly after Pelosi landed in Taipei late on Tuesday, China had announced that the People’s Liberation Army would hold live-fire military drills – exercises using live ammunition – at several points around Taiwan.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years despite a slew of threats from Beijing. China sees official visits by US authorities as lending support to pro-independence camps and giving credence to the idea of Taiwan as a sovereign nation.
On Wednesday, China said that the military drills were “necessary and just” to protect its national sovereignty, according to AFP.
Arthur Zhin-Sheng Wang, a defence studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University, told the Associated Press that three of the areas where the drills were conducted infringe on Taiwanese waters.
Zhin-Sheng said that using live fire in a country’s territorial space could “possibly be seen as an act of war”, according to international rules of engagement.
Twenty-seven Chinese airplanes also entered the Taiwan’s airspace on Wednesday, according to the country’s defence military.
As part of its retaliatory economic measures against Taiwan, China has banned the import of some items, including fish and fruit, and export of sand.
Meanwhile, soon after Pelosi left, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the visit by her delegation will boost relations and strengthen global cooperation between the two countries, reports ANI.
Will not back down: Taiwan president
Earlier in the day, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed not to back down in the face of military threats from China following Pelosi’s visit, the BBC reported.
Pelosi met Tsai and assured her of Washington’s continued support for Taiwan.
“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,” the US House Speaker said.
She was referring to when legislators passed the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act – a law that obliges Washington to ensure that the island has sufficient defence capability.
Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, in a meeting with Tsai at the presidential office, hailed Taiwan as an “inspiration to all freedom-loving people”, the BBC reported.
“The world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said, adding that America’s determination to preserve democracy in Taiwan and the rest of the world remains iron-clad.
The Taiwan president thanked the US Congressional delegation for visiting the island under “such challenging circumstances”.
“Taiwanese people are pragmatic,” Tsai said, according to Al Jazeera. “We have welcomed many congressional delegations to Taiwan over the years and a normal practice of friends visiting each other is inherent in our culture of hospitality. Military exercises are unnecessary responses.”