Pelosi praises Taiwan, says Asian travel wouldn’t change status quo

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Reuters) – US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday praised Taiwan, pledged US solidarity and said her Asia journey, which led to unprecedented military exercises by an angry China, was never about the changing the regional status quo.

Pelosi and a congressional delegation were in Japan on the final leg of an Asian journey with a brief and unannounced stop in Taiwan, the self-governed island Beijing considers its own — and prompted an outraged Beijing to conduct live fire drills in waters around Taiwan, with five missiles landing in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Her stop in Taiwan, the highest visit by a US official in 25 years, came as Tokyo, one of Washington’s closest allies, grew increasingly alarmed at China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific and the possibility of Beijing taking military action. might take against Taiwan.

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“We have said from the beginning that our representation here is not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region,” she told a news conference after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“The Chinese government is not happy that our friendship with Taiwan is strong,” she added.

“It is bipartisan in the House and in the Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”

China has condemned Pelosi’s trip, who took the delegation to Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, as well as Taiwan and Japan.

The state broadcaster said the military exercises, which began Thursday – the day after Pelosi left Taiwan – and will end on Sunday, will be the largest conducted by China in the Taiwan Strait. During the exercises, shots were fired on the waters and in the airspace around the island.

Japan said five of the nine missiles fired into its territory have landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Tokyo filed a diplomatic protest against the incident, which Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called “unprecedented.” read more

Pelosi praised Taiwan’s democracy, economic successes and — in a disguised dig in China — its human rights record, pointing to Taiwan’s support for LGBTQ rights, the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage.

“The fact is, I’ve said it time and again, if we don’t speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights around the world,” she said.

“China has some contradictions – some progress in terms of uplifting people, some terrible things happening in terms of the Uyghurs. In fact, it has been labeled a genocide.”

Human rights groups accuse Beijing of abusing the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang, allegations China rejects.

DELIVERED ALLY, MAINTAINING PEACE

Earlier, Pelosi met with Kishida, who later said they would work together to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, a major shipping route.

Japan, whose southernmost islands are closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, has warned that Chinese harassment of Taiwan poses an escalating threat to national security. read more

Tensions between Japan and China also escalated on Thursday when China announced that a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers, set to take place on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Cambodia, had been canceled amid its displeasure over a Declaration of the G7 urging Beijing to resolve tensions over Taiwan peacefully. read more

China has called on Japan’s ambassador to Beijing to file strong protests over his participation in the G7’s “erroneous” statement, the foreign ministry said Friday.

During a visit to Japan in May, US President Joe Biden said he would be willing to use force to defend Taiwan — a comment that appeared to push the boundaries of US policy of “strategic ambiguity” to the island. read more

Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has also pledged to double military spending to 2% of GDP.

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Additional reporting by Elaine Lies, Mariko Katsumura and Kentaro Sugiyama; writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by David Dolan, Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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