House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended her trip to Taiwan on Tuesday, saying the visit was “worth it” despite the unprecedented drills the Chinese military has held around the island in response.
Leading up to her trip, China made clear that it would respond militarily, and the Biden administration warned it could spark a major crisis across the Taiwan Strait. “I think it was worth it,” Pelosi said in her first interview since returning from Asia.
Pelosi pointed out that she received “overwhelming bipartisan support” for the trip, which made her the first House speaker to visit the island since Newt Gingrich did in 1997.
She also questioned why her trip received so much attention and pointed to a bipartisan Senate delegation that visited Taiwan back in April, which included Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Pelosi claimed that China “ignored” Menendez’s visit, but Beijing did respond and launched military drills across from Taiwan in response.
China also responded when Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) visited Taiwan in July by flying aircraft across the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait. For decades, Chinese warplanes very rarely cross the median line, but that has changed as a consequence of Pelosi’s visit.
Every day since Pelosi was in Taipei, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry has reported Chinese planes crossing the median line. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has also simulated a blockade around the island, drilled within 12 miles of Taiwan’s coast, and fired missiles over the island for the first time. The PLA’s drill marked China’s largest-ever military exercise around the island.