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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11:27 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Hong Kong leader hits out at Pelosi's Taiwan visit

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's leader John Lee, a former police officer and security chief known for his role cracking down on the city's pro-democracy movement, denounced US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Tuesday.

"Pelosi's visit is tantamount to encouraging 'Taiwan independence' and openly challenges the one-China principle, undermining the stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Lee said in a statement released by the Hong Kong government.

“Such a move, betting on and in contempt for the well-being of more than 20 million people in Taiwan, is extremely selfish."

Lee, who became the face of a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong and who oversaw the arrests of dozens of activists and raids on newsrooms, was sworn in as the city's chief executive by Chinese leader Xi Jinping on May 8.

He was the sole contender for the job, selected from a largely government-appointed, pro-Beijing committee — raising concern among activists and former pro-democracy lawmakers, many of whom have fled the city since the crackdown began in 2020.

10:14 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Deputy speaker of Taiwan's legislature praises Pelosi as "true friend" defending democracy

From CNN’s Wayne Chang in Hong Kong and Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, attends a meeting at the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's house of parliament, with Tsai Chi-Chang, right, Vice President of the Legislative Yuan on August 3 in Taipei, Taiwan.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, attends a meeting at the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's house of parliament, with Tsai Chi-Chang, right, Vice President of the Legislative Yuan on August 3 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Central News Agency/Getty Images)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Tsai Chi-chang, deputy speaker of Taiwan’s legislature, on Wednesday morning in Taipei.  

“Today we are so fortunate to once again welcome you as House Speaker to the Legislative Yuan [Taiwan's legislature]," Tsai told Pelosi in a conversation before lawmakers. "I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to the US Congress for your concrete actions in providing rock solid support for Taiwan."

Tsai said Pelosi's visit with a US congressional delegation represents “the strongest defense and consolidation of the value of democracy and freedom.”

Pelosi's visit to Taiwan comes after stern warnings from Beijing that it would take countermeasures in retaliation.

Tsai hailed Pelosi as a "true friend” and a “guiding light” in safeguarding human rights.

“Taiwan has become the beacon of democracy in the world and we hope that the global alliance of democracy will stand with Taiwan,” Tsai said.
9:49 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Pelosi has long been a critic of the Chinese Communist Party and Beijing's human rights record

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2019.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nancy Pelosi is a longstanding critic of the Chinese Communist Party, reiterating on Tuesday that the US needed to stand by Taiwan as the island faces rising threats from Beijing

Pelosi had originally planned to visit the island in April, before she tested positive for Covid-19.

She has also previously denounced Beijing's human rights record, and met with pro-democracy dissidents and the Dalai Lama — the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who remains a thorn in the side of the Chinese government.

In 1991, Pelosi unfurled a banner in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to commemorate victims of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters. More recently, she has voiced support for the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Pelosi's political tenure: The California Democrat comes from a political family; her father had served as the mayor of Baltimore, and represented the city in Congress for five terms, according to Pelosi's official House of Representatives biography. Her brother also served as the Baltimore mayor.

Pelosi was first elected to Congress in 1987, and elected as House Speaker in 2007 during the Bush administration. She is now in her fourth term as Speaker.

She is the third-highest ranking official in the US government, and the highest-ranking figure to visit Taiwan in 25 years since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's trip in 1997.

9:45 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

North Korea and Russia denounce Pelosi's trip to Taiwan

From CNN's Gawon Bae and Akanksha Sharma

North Korea and Russia, both countries with close ties to China, have denounced Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

In a statement carried by North Korean state media KCNA on Wednesday, the country's Foreign Ministry said Pelosi’s trip is “arousing serious concern of the international community.”

“The current situation clearly shows that the impudent interference of the US in internal affairs of other countries and its intentional political and military provocations are, indeed, the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region,” it said.

The statement expressed support for the Chinese government, saying “the issue of Taiwan pertains to the internal affairs of China.”

Moscow's reaction: Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the Taiwan issue was "a purely internal Chinese affair," and warned the US "there is no longer any place for American hegemony."

"We consider her 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 statement said.

Some context: Beijing is Pyongyang's primary ally, and the main trading partner for both North Korea and Russia. China has not condemned Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

North Korea has previously made similar condemnations of the US over Taiwan-related controversies. In October 2021, after US President Joe Biden said the US was committed to coming to Taiwan’s defense if it faces attack from China — remarks the White House quickly walked back — North Korea accused the US of raising military tensions.

9:36 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

What is the US' relationship with Taiwan?

US Ambassador to China Gen. George C. Marshall with Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek (right), and his wife, Soong Mei-ling, in China in 1943.
US Ambassador to China Gen. George C. Marshall with Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek (right), and his wife, Soong Mei-ling, in China in 1943. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

During the Chinese civil war, the United States backed the ruling Nationalist government, led by the Kuomintang. The Soviet Union supported the Chinese Communist Party, which eventually took power and established the People's Republic of China.

The US continued to support the Kuomintang, or KMT, government after it retreated to Taiwan following its defeat. The US provided the KMT with development assistance to build its economy and initially shunned the People's Republic as an ideological and military adversary.

But following a diplomatic conflict between Beijing and Moscow in the 1960s — known as the Sino-Soviet split — relations between the US and the People's Republic began to thaw.

By 1979, the US had joined a growing list of nations to formally switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The One China policy: In what is known as the "One China" policy, Washington recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China. It also acknowledges Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China. However, the US has never accepted the Communist Party's claim of sovereignty over the island.

Meanwhile, the US continues to retain close unofficial ties with Taiwan under the terms of the decades-old Taiwan Relations Act, facilitating commercial, cultural and other exchanges through the American Institute in Taiwan — the de facto US Embassy in Taipei.

Strategic ambiguity: The US maintains close unofficial ties with Taiwan, and is bound by law to provide Taiwan with defensive arms. But it remains deliberately vague on whether it would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, a policy known as “strategic ambiguity.”

This is meant to dissuade any such invasion by keeping open the possibility of a US military response. At the same time, it's meant to avoid giving Taiwan the sort of assurance that could prompt it to declare official independence. The goal is to preserve the status quo and to avoid a war in Asia — and so far it appears to have worked, allowing Washington to walk the tightrope of relations with both sides.

Biden's remarks: But under Biden, some observers say that "strategic ambiguity" has become somewhat less ambiguous. Since taking office, Biden has said on three occasions the US would be willing to intervene militarily should the Chinese attack Taiwan — though the White House has rushed to walk back his remarks each time.

Read more about China-Taiwan tensions here.

9:23 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Taiwan's press heralds Pelosi's arrival — and highlights China's warnings

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

A selection of Taiwan's newspapers on Wednesday morning.
A selection of Taiwan's newspapers on Wednesday morning. Walid Berrazeg/CNN

Newspapers across Taiwan on Wednesday were splashed with headlines announcing Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island — and Beijing's threat of countermeasures.

The United Daily News, one of the island's largest newspapers, included a photo of Pelosi's arrival on its front page. Its headline, in large bolded Chinese characters, warned: "Tense situation on the Taiwan Strait."

The Taipei Times, a daily English-language newspaper, described Pelosi's "late-night landing" on the front page and her expected itinerary on Wednesday.

Some context: Within minutes of Pelosi's arrival in Taiwan, China said it would immediately begin "a series of joint military operations around the island," including using long-range live ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.

An announcement from the People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said beginning Tuesday night a series of exercises would be held on the sea and in the air surrounding Taiwan.

"This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the 'Taiwan independence' forces seeking 'independence,'" Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
10:11 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Pelosi will speak with Taiwanese lawmakers but stop short of a formal speech, MP says

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Tsai Chi-chang, deputy speaker of Taiwan’s legislature, on Wednesday in Taipei.  
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Tsai Chi-chang, deputy speaker of Taiwan’s legislature, on Wednesday in Taipei.   (Pool/Taiwan Parliament)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver remarks as part of a conversation with members of Taiwan's parliament on Wednesday, but will not give a formal speech to the full house, a lawmaker told CNN.

Representatives from different parties will attend the meeting. However, due to parliament being in summer recess, not all members will be in attendance, the MP told CNN. 

Pelosi will be greeted by Tsai Chi-chang, deputy speaker of the legislature, after speaker You Si-kun tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. 

After visiting parliament, Pelosi will head to the presidential office for a meeting with President Tsai Ing-Wen, according to a senior Taiwanese official.

9:04 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Pelosi was met by hundreds of supporters — and protesters — upon arrival in Taipei

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

Demonstrators take part in a protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit on Tuesday night in Taipei, Taiwan, outside the Grand Hyatt Taipei hotel.
Demonstrators take part in a protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit on Tuesday night in Taipei, Taiwan, outside the Grand Hyatt Taipei hotel. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

A heavy police presence was seen outside the Grand Hyatt Taipei hotel on Tuesday night — where US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is staying in Taiwan — as hundreds of people who both support and oppose her visit had gathered.

Jerry Liu, director of international affairs at New Power Party, the fourth-largest political party in Taiwan, said he felt it was "very important" to welcome Pelosi to the island.

"Her visit to Taiwan is beneficial to Taiwan-US relations in the long term," he told CNN outside the hotel. "I think her visit also sends a strong message to China, that she will stand against the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]."

"I think the visit of Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan also sends a clear message to Taiwan, that the US has been a staunch supporter for Taiwan, and we firmly believe this," he said.

Some protesters, however, accused Pelosi of worsening cross-strait tensions, arguing that the visit amounted to political posturing.

"Right now, Pelosi and the United States are treating Taiwan as a chess piece. Once she lands in Taiwan, mainland China will retaliate using their own methods," said Huang, one of the demonstrators outside the hotel Tuesday.

Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan and a landmark site, also lit up with words of support as Pelosi landed in the Taiwanese capital. "Speaker Pelosi... welcome to TW," it read.

Pelosi's convoy arrived at the hotel at about 11:30 p.m. local time Tuesday night, and she is expected to arrive at the Taiwanese parliament and presidential office on Wednesday morning.

8:53 p.m. ET, August 2, 2022

Taiwan's Defense Ministry says it's keeping a close watch on China's military activities around the island

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday expressed its "solemn condemnation" of China’s live-fire drills around the island, saying the Chinese military's exercises show its mentality of “using force to resolve differences."

“The live fire drills are an attempt to threaten our key ports and urban areas, unilaterally undermining regional peace and stability. This will not help China’s international image and hurt people’s feelings on both sides of the Strait,” the island's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

The Defense Ministry is keeping close tabs on the Chinese military’s activities, has strengthened its alertness and will “respond timely and appropriately as needed," it said, reiterating: "We have the resolve, capabilities and confidence to ensure national security."

Some context: After Pelosi's arrival late Tuesday, China's military said it would start exercises around Taiwan in response 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.