TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday (Aug. 3) concluded her whistle-stop tour of Taiwan only 19 hours after she arrived.
At 5:29 p.m., Pelosi and her delegation boarded a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40C at Taipei Songshan Airport with South Korea the next stop on her whirlwind tour of Asia. Her visit now enters the history books as the first by a sitting U.S. house speaker in the 25 years since Newt Gingrich came in 1997.
Pelosi's trip to Taiwan drew tremendous attention as questions swirled about whether she would indeed defy threats from China and public advice from the Biden administration. Because she never revealed the Taiwan leg of her itinerary, over 300,000 visitors swarmed the flight tracking website Flightradar24 on Tuesday (Aug. 2) to determine if and when she would indeed land in Taiwan.
Pelosi touring Legislative Yuan. (CNA photo)
Based on data from that flight tracker and others, Pelosi's plane appeared to have avoided a confrontation with PLA warplanes by flying east across Indonesia and south of the Philippines, before turning north and hugging the east coast of the Philippines. When the aircraft neared Taiwan's Hualien County, it headed north along Taiwan's east coast and then turned northwest and crossed over Yilan County, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan before reaching its destination at Taipei Songshan Airport.
At 10:44 p.m. on Tuesday evening, Pelosi and her congressional delegation arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport. In addition to the airport, many people, both supporters and detractors, camped out at the Grand Hyatt in anticipation of her arrival.
On Wednesday morning, Pelosi first went to the American Institute in Taiwan to attend a briefing. She then visited the Legislative Yuan where she met with Deputy Legislative Speaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), as well as caucus whips of the four political parties in the legislature.
Pelosi meets with Deputy Speaker Tsai Chi-chang (right). (CNA photo)
During the meeting, she lauded Taiwan as one of the world's freest societies. She also praised Taiwan's pandemic response and said that the CHIPS act would provide "greater opportunities for U.S.-Taiwan economic cooperation."
Next, Pelosi went to the Office of the President, where she met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who presented her with the Order of Propitious Clouds with a Special Grand Cordon. Tsai said the award represented gratitude to Pelosi and to express Taiwan's wish for more cooperation.
At the event, Tsai described Pelosi as "truly one of Taiwan's most devoted friends". She then laid out Taiwan's three key principles in facing uncertainties, including not backing down from military threats, doing "whatever it takes" to strengthen Taiwan's defenses, and that Taiwan is a "reliable and trustworthy partner" of the U.S.
Pelosi speaks after receiving award from Tsai. (CNA photo)
Pelosi pointed out that 43 years ago the U.S. established the Taiwan Relations Act, which she described as a "bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan." She emphasized that the delegation came to make it "unequivocally clear" that the U.S. will not abandon its commitment to Taiwan.
In addition, prior to a state banquet, Pelosi also held a video conference with Mark Liu (劉德音), chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and exchanged views on the CHIPS and Science Act. During the banquet, Pelosi chatted with TSMC founder Morris Chang (張忠謀).
In the afternoon, Pelosi visited the National Human Rights Museum and met Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲); the owner of Hong Kong's Causeway Bay Books, Lam Wing-kee (林榮基); and Wu'er Kaixi (吾爾開希), an exiled Chinese dissident in Taiwan who is the general secretary of the Taiwan Parliamentary Human Rights Commission; and Yang Sen-hong (楊憲宏), head of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR). The latter lauded Pelosi for being gutsy in the face of Chinese threats and said “Xi Jinping (習近平) has no idea what a badass woman he is messing with."
Pelosi's aircraft took off from Songshan Airport at 6:01 p.m. with trips to South Korea and Japan still ahead of her before she heads back to the U.S.
Pelosi's plane departing from Taipei. (CNA photo)
Pelosi's plane flying over Taipei 101. (CNA photo)