TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied threats from China and advice from the Biden administration by arriving in Taipei on Tuesday evening (Aug. 2), marking the first visit to the country by a U.S. house speaker in 25 years.
At 10:44 p.m., Pelosi and her congressional delegation arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport aboard a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40C, designated as SPAR19. Based on the aircraft tracking website FlightAware, the C-40C first took off from Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore at 9:48 a.m. and landed at 10:33 a.m in Subang Jaya, Malaysia for a whistle-stop tour of Kuala Lumpur.
At 3:42 p.m., Pelosi's jet was again airborne and flew due east across Borneo in an apparent bid to avoid the disputed South China Sea. The aircraft made a brief stop again at Toli Toli on the Indonesian island of Sulawasi at 6:26 p.m.
At 7:27 p.m., Pelosi's plane took off again and flew northeast off the coast of the Philippine Island of Mindanao before heading north and skirting the eastern edge of the island.
It then turned northeast and held a course that tightly hugged the east coast of the Philippines. In the final leg of the flight, when the aircraft neared Taiwan's Hualien County, it turned north along Taiwan's east coast, according to ADS-B Exchange.
The jet then turned northwest and crossed over Yilan County, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan before reaching its destination at Taipei Songshan Airport.
Pelosi's jet lands at Songshan Airport with Grand Hotel in background. (CNA photo)
Pelosi's delegation includes Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mark Takano, chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs; Suzan DelBene, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Raja Krishnamoorthi, member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Andy Kim, member of the House Armed Services Committee and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Early on Wednesday morning (Aug. 3), the house speaker is scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). She is then scheduled to attend a meeting at 8:50 a.m. on the second floor of the Legislative Yuan, where she will meet with Taiwan's Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃), among other lawmakers.
Pelosi's delegation will then take part in a state banquet at noon. In the afternoon, Pelosi and participating congressmen will fly to South Korea.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu greets Pelosi at Songshan Airport. (MOFA photo)
Pelosi's trip to Taipei marks the first time a house speaker has visited Taiwan since Newt Gingrich's meeting with former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on April, 2 1997. Pelosi had originally been scheduled to visit in April this year, but had to postpone the trip due to a COVID diagnosis.
When asked by the media to comment on Pelosi's trip on July 20, Biden said, "Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now." Subsequent leaks from the Biden administration indicated fears of China retaliating over her visit by sending much deeper intrusions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone or even imposing a no-fly zone.
China's foreign ministry warned of "forceful measures" and claimed it would "not sit idly by" if Pelosi's trip took place. During a phone call between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) on July 28, Xi warned the U.S. not to "play with fire" over Taiwan.
The next question is what retaliatory measures Beijing will take following Pelosi's whirlwind tour of Taiwan. China has announced a series of live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait, as well as East and South China Seas, dispatched warships off Taiwan's Lanyu Island, blacklisted over 100 Taiwanese food exporters, and shut down Weibo in Taiwan.
Wu (left) takes selfie with Pelosi. (MOFA photo)