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US Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit: What to know

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The visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan has made her the most senior American official to visit the island in 25 years.

Pelosi, who was on a visit to Asia that included Singapore and Malaysia, landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night (2 August).

Her visit drew sharp responses from China, which issued a statement condemning her actions as a serious violation of the one-China policy that was adopted by the US.

The Chinese military on Thursday launched multiple ballistic missiles into waters around Taiwan as the largest-ever military drills around the island started.

The live-fire drills were held in six maritime areas around the island and include both the waters and the airspace.

Taiwan said that there were "multiple brief incursions" of the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait, Reuters reported.

Nancy Pelosi shortly after her arrival in Taiwan. (PHOTO: Associated Press)
Nancy Pelosi shortly after her arrival in Taiwan. (PHOTO: Associated Press)

Reactions to Pelosi's Taiwan visit

At the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, cross-strait developments were discussed "with concern", according to a statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

MFA added that stable US-China relations were vital for "regional peace and prosperity".

"Singapore hopes that the US and China can work out a modus vivendi, exercise self-restraint, and refrain from actions that will further escalate tensions," MFA added in its statement.

Taiwanese holding banner which says 'Republic of Taiwan welcomes US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi'.
Taiwanese welcoming Pelosi to Taiwan. (PHOTO: Associated Press)

Why is Pelosi visiting Taiwan?

Pelosi defied warnings from China and concerns from the White House on her visit, but it is not the first time she has taken on Beijing.

As a representative from California, she visited Tiananmen Square in 1991, two years after the crackdown on protests in Beijing, doing so without the permission of her Chinese hosts and evading her official escorts.

While her plans were not backed by President Joe Biden, it was reported that White House officials had tried to dissuade her. As House Speaker, Pelosi is also the second in line for the presidency, after Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Ahead of her arrival in Taiwan, Pelosi penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that was published shortly before she landed, writing that the visit "should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom".

Prior to landing in Taipei, Pelosi had visited Singapore and Malaysia in the past two days as part of her visit to the region, which also includes Japan and South Korea.

On Wednesday, Pelosi addressed Taiwan's parliament, thanking President Tsai Ing-wen's leadership and saying, "We commend Taiwan for being one of the freest societies in the world".

At a press conference later with Tsai on the same day, Pelosi pledged America’s “crucial” solidarity with Taiwan.

Demonstrators in Taiwan protesting against Pelosi's visit. (PHOTO: Reuters)
Demonstrators in Taiwan protesting against Pelosi's visit. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Why is Beijing upset over Pelosi's visit?

The Chinese government considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has repeatedly threatened to annex the self-ruled island by force if necessary.

In recent months, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan has stepped up air raid drills and exercises. Prior to Russia's invasion, the Kremlin had claimed that the military forces along Ukraine's border were conducting military drills.

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