US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan

By Jessie Yeung, Rob Picheta and Megan Trimble, CNN

Updated 12:26 p.m. ET, August 4, 2022
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7:14 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Pelosi leaves Taiwan after high-stakes trip

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu waves at U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the delegation as they board a plane before leaving Taipei Songshan Airport, in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 3.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu waves at U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the delegation as they board a plane before leaving Taipei Songshan Airport, in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 3. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Reuters)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has departed Taipei’s Songshan airport, concluding a high-stakes visit to Taiwan that drew the ire of China.

Pelosi urged continued US "solidarity" with the self-governing island during her two-day trip, the first time a US House speaker has visited Taiwan in 25 years.

Shortly before taking off on Wednesday afternoon local time, she tweeted that her delegation had "reiterated our ironclad support for Taiwan’s democracy."

5:17 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Pelosi reiterates "ironclad support" for Taiwan's democracy

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Nancy Pelosi has pledged "ironclad support" for Taiwan, as she prepares to leave the island.

The US House speaker posted images of her meeting with Taiwan's deputy speaker of the legislature Tsai Chi-chang on her official Twitter account.

"We reiterated our ironclad support for Taiwan’s democracy, including on matters of security & stability, economic growth and governance," she wrote.

"We also spoke virtually with Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun and wished him a speedy recovery," she added, following his positive test for Covid-19.

4:55 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Lavrov says Pelosi displays US "lawlessness" in Taiwan, as Ukraine's Zelensky calls on China to oppose Russia

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attends a meeting with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, right, in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on August 3.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attends a meeting with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, right, in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on August 3. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Reuters)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan reflects Washington's desire to prove its "impunity and display their lawlessness," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday during a news conference with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Lavrov connected Pelosi's visit with the US response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying: "I cannot tell what was their [the Americans’] motivation but there are no doubts that it reflects the very same policy we are talking about with regards to the Ukrainian situation."

"This is a desire to prove to absolutely everyone [their] impunity and display their lawlessness."

Lavrov said he did not see any other "reason to create such an irritant literally out of nowhere, fully aware what it means for the People’s Republic of China."

On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russia considered Pelosi's visit "a clear provocation in the spirit of the United States' aggressive policy of an all-out effort to contain the PRC [People's Republic of China]."

The ministry also called on Washington "to refrain from actions that undermine regional stability and international security and to recognize the new geopolitical reality in which there is no longer any place for American hegemony."

Some context: China's refusal to condemn Russia's war on Ukraine has fueled speculation over its intentions with Taiwan, raising questions about how the world might react should it launch an attack.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on China “to join the united world” and oppose Russia, in a virtual address to the Australian National University.

The President discussed China when answering questions from students. He said China’s “neutrality" toward Russia's invasion "is better” than if China were to announce its outright support for Russia. But he said he believed “the nation, the people of China will do the prudent choice.” He went on to say it is “important that China wouldn’t help Russia.”

4:14 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Taiwan negotiating alternative aviation routes with Japan and Philippines due to Chinese live fire drills

From CNN’s Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

Taiwan is negotiating with neighboring Japan and the Philippines to find alternative aviation routes, after China announced live fire drills around the trade-reliant island, its government-controlled news agency reported Wednesday.

China’s military announced late Tuesday that it would launch military exercises around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governed island, along with a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation,” according to statements released by its Eastern Theater Command and Ministry of Defense. 

Responding to the move, Taiwan's defense ministry said the exercises were tantamount to a “maritime and aerial blockade,” which threatened international waters. 

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau also issued three notices on Wednesday, asking vessels to use alternative routes for seven ports around the island.

3:05 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Tsai Ing-wen on Pelosi visit: "Democracies stand together"

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen shared photos of her meeting with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the day.

"A pleasure to meet with [Speaker Pelosi] & recognise her longstanding support for Taiwan," Tsai wrote. "Your visit not only reflects strong US congressional support for bilateral ties – it also sends a message to the world that democracies stand together in the face of common challenges."

The photos show Tsai and Pelosi waving to reporters and officials in the room, and the moment Tsai bestowed Taiwan's highest civilian honor upon the Speaker.

3:02 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

In Photos: Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Demonstrators take part in a protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit on August 2, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Demonstrators take part in a protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit on August 2, in Taipei, Taiwan. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei late Tuesday evening to reporters crowding the airport and hundreds on the streets — including both supporters and protesters.

Supporters clapped and cheered when she arrived, with many saying they saw her visit as a welcome show of support for Taiwan from the United States. But some critics told CNN the trip felt like political posturing that only worsened cross-strait tensions.

The Taipei 101 building lit up with a message reading "TW hearts US" as a welcome sign for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 2.
The Taipei 101 building lit up with a message reading "TW hearts US" as a welcome sign for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 2. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The Taipei 101, an iconic landmark in the city, lit up with a message welcoming Pelosi as her plane landed. "TW (loves) US," the message read.

Pelosi returned the sentiment on Wednesday as she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, reiterating the United States' commitment to the island in her remarks. "America stands with Taiwan," she said.

Nancy Pelosi, center left, speaks with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center right, after arriving at the president's office on August 3, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi, center left, speaks with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center right, after arriving at the president's office on August 3, in Taipei, Taiwan. (Chien Chih-Hung/Office of The President/Getty Images)

Pelosi also met with Taiwanese lawmakers and Taiwan's deputy speaker earlier Wednesday morning in the self-ruled island's legislature.

Meanwhile, Beijing has lashed out at Pelosi, with the Chinese military announcing it would start exercises around Taiwan in response. Late Tuesday night, after Pelosi's arrival, the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister summoned the US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, to protest the visit.

Police officers and plain clothes security personnel are seen in front of the US Embassy in Beijing, China, on August 3.
Police officers and plain clothes security personnel are seen in front of the US Embassy in Beijing, China, on August 3. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

2:46 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

China's Foreign Minister calls Pelosi's Taiwan visit "a complete farce"

From CNN's Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting in Bali, Indonesia on July 9.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting in Bali, Indonesia on July 9. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi lashed out at US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, calling her visit to Taiwan a "complete farce" and warning that "those who play with fire will perish."

"The United States is violating China's sovereignty under the pretense of democracy," Wang told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) foreign ministers in Cambodia.

In a statement earlier Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry criticized Pelosi for "brazenly" going ahead with her visit, claiming it "maliciously infringes on China's sovereignty and blatantly engages in political provocations."

"It proves once again that some US politicians have become ‘troublemakers’ of China-US relations," the statement said. 

China's Taiwan Affairs Office also said in a separate statement Wednesday that Beijing will take "criminal punishment measures" for those who are "die-hard" in support of Taiwanese independence.

Military drills: Ahead of Pelosi's visit, China had issued a number of furious warnings, vowing to take "resolute and forceful measures" if her trip to the island went ahead.

After the Speaker's arrival in Taipei on Tuesday, China's military said it would start exercises around Taiwan and launch a series of "targeted military operations to counteract the situation," according to statements from China's Eastern Theater Command and Ministry of Defense.

2:38 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

China suspends some Taiwanese imports and halts export of sand to Taiwan

From CNN's Beijing Bureau and Simone McCarthy, Akanksha Sharma and Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

Farmers load crates of oranges onto a truck at an orchard on April 26, in Zigui County, Yichang City, Hubei Province of China.
Farmers load crates of oranges onto a truck at an orchard on April 26, in Zigui County, Yichang City, Hubei Province of China. (Nie Shuang/VCG/Getty Images)

China has suspended the import of citrus fruits and some fish products from Taiwan and the export of natural sand to the island, Chinese authorities said Wednesday, amid a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said Wednesday that the import of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan to China had been suspended.

In a separate statement, Chinese Customs said the import suspension of citrus fruit is a result of “pest control” and “excessive pesticide residues,” and cited “Covid prevention” for the suspension of seafood imports.

Sand export ban: Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Commerce also announced Wednesday it is immediately suspending its export of natural sand to Taiwan, a key component for the production of semi-conductor chips.

In a statement Wednesday following the announcement, Taiwan's Bureau of Mines said China suspending its sand exports would have a “limited” effect and that Taiwan's domestic demand for Chinese sand accounts for "less than 1%" in recent years.

Some context: Amid escalating tensions with Taiwan in recent years, China has previously banned imports of some Taiwanese products. Last year, China banned imports of pineapples from the island followed by some types of apples, citing “pest control.” Earlier this year, it also banned Taiwanese grouper fish, citing detection of some banned drugs and excessive antibiotics.

Beijing's recent announcements coincide with Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the first trip to the self-ruled island by a sitting speaker in 25 years, and after Beijing issued stern warnings that it would take countermeasures in retaliation. 

1:31 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Analysis: Questions mount over whether Pelosi's Taiwan trip is worth the consequences

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen arrive for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, August 3.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen arrive for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, August 3. (Taiwan Presidential Office/AP)

Whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's risky trip to Taiwan was a valuable statement of US resolve or provoked China for no strategic gain depends on when, or if, Beijing's consequent fury and military posturing abate.

Pelosi visited visited legislators and President Tsai Ing-Wen on the democratic self-governing island on Wednesday, giving her hosts the trappings of a nation-state visit sure to enrage the Chinese.

Her trip has already caused uproar in tense US-China relations, with the communist giant sending jets to the edge of Taiwanese air space and launching military exercises that sent an unsubtle message that Taiwan is surrounded.

However, if these eruptions stop short of a full-scale crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a vital strategic waterway, and avoid the possibility of miscalculations between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, or even Chinese and US assets in the region, the storm over Pelosi's mission could be temporary. The imagery of the US House speaker bolstering a democracy under China's giant shadow could become one of the signature moments in US Asia-Pacific foreign policy.

US-China tensions: The geopolitical relationship between Washington and Beijing is the most important nation-to-nation clash on the globe. It is unfolding as a generational tussle between two civilizations keen to imprint their values, economic systems and strategic hegemony on the rest of the world.

While the Biden administration has followed the Trump White House in treating China as an adversary rather than as a competitor, the prime goal of US policy is still to avoid what could be a disastrous future war between the two nations.

So if Pelosi's visit — a personal rebuke to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has made the takeover of Taiwan an existential quest — permanently worsens already poor US-China relations and brings forward what some see as an inevitable superpower confrontation, it might turn out to be a massive miscalculation.

The same will be true if her trip prompts Beijing to take steps that rock the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Taiwanese in their dynamic island home, a factor often ignored by China hawks taking tough stands to bolster their political position in the US.

Read the full analysis here.