Pelosi defends trip to Taiwan: purpose was to ‘salute this thriving democracy’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended her trip to Taiwan on Wednesday, saying that she led a congressional delegation to the self-governing island to “salute this thriving democracy.”
“Our purpose in going to Taiwan was to say that we have this strong relationship built on the status quo, which we support,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We will not allow China to isolate Taiwan. They have kept Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, other things where Taiwan can make a very valued contribution. And they may keep them from going there, but they’re not keeping us from going to Taiwan. We will not allow them to … that was our purpose, to salute this thriving democracy” she added.
Pelosi touched down in Taiwan on Aug. 2, putting the pin on days of speculation regarding whether the Speaker would visit the self-governing island during a trip to the Indo-Pacific region. She was joined by a group of Democratic lawmakers.
Pelosi and her office refused to confirm the trip to Taiwan prior to her arrival, emphasizing that they do not give travel information in advance for security reasons.
The stop in Taiwan, however, was the topic of much speculation, especially since President Biden told reporters in July that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now” when asked about the potential trip. China also urged Pelosi against making the trip.
The delegation ultimately held bilateral meetings with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. The trip made Pelosi the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the self-governing island since 1997, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) traveled to the territory. Pelosi has a history of confronting Chinese leaders.
The trip sparked new military activity in the Pacific, with China moving two of its aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and flying planes close to the median line between the Taiwan Strait and the sea. The U.S. Navy also positioned a number of warships in waters close to Taiwan, though the service said the move was part of routine operations.
China imposed sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members in response to her trip to Taiwan. In a statement announcing the penalties, a spokesperson for the foreign minister called the speaker’s visit an “egregious provocation,” and said it was “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Asked about those sanctions on Wednesday, Pelosi brushed them aside.
“There’s no reaction,” Pelosi said. “Who cares?”
“We didn’t go there to talk about China, we went there to praise Taiwan. We went there to show our friendship, to say China cannot isolate Taiwan, so that’s what it was about. That is incidental to me of no relevance whatsoever,” she added.
Pelosi also confirmed Wednesday that her son joined the congressional delegation on the trip to the Indo-Pacific region. She said he was serving as her “escort.”
“Usually, we invited spouses. Not all could come, but I had him come and I was very proud he was there, and I’m thrilled — it was nice for me,” she said.
When asked if he any business dealings in relation to the trip, Pelosi said “no he did not, of course he did not.”