Pelosi departs from Taiwan
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has concluded her controversial visit to Taiwan, with a plane carrying America’s third highest-ranking official taking off from Songshan Airport in Taipei on Wednesday.
Pelosi arrived on the self-governed island on Tuesday despite stern warnings from Beijing, which views Taiwan a part of its territory under the One China policy.
During her short stay in Taipei, the House speaker promised that the US “will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan,” describing it as “one of the freest societies in the world.”
The 82-year-old addressed the local parliament, held a meeting with the island’s leader Tsai Ing-wen, and was awarded with the one of Taiwan’s highest civilian awards – the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon – for her firm stance in “safeguarding freedom, democracy and human rights.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has condemned Pelosi’s trip, saying it “seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity” and will have a “severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations.”
The ministry also summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to lodge an official protest, telling him Washington will “pay the price” for the move.
The Chinese Defense Ministry has announced a series of military exercises and live-fire drills in six maritime areas, and in Chinese-controlled airspace around the island.
Pelosi is the most high-ranking American official to travel to the territory since a trip by then-US House speaker Newt Gingrich back in 1997.
Despite recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate authority in China since 1979, the US maintains strong unofficial ties with Taiwan, selling weapons to Taipei and backing its push for sovereignty.
The island of 23.5 million, which officially calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), has been self-governed since 1949, but never officially declared independence from Beijing.