The plane carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took off at 18.01 local time (10.01 GMT) from Songshan Airport in Taipei, after a visit in which the official has promised that the U.S. will not abandon Taiwan and which has outraged Beijing.
Pelosi, who spent less than 24 hours on the island, visited the Taiwanese Parliament and later met with the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen, who presented her with an award for her support for the territory.
After the meeting with Tsai, Pelosi stated that Taiwan, which she described as a model for the region, is a contrast to China, while praising the success of the Taiwanese people and their courage in becoming a more democratic country.
In the afternoon of the same day, she met in the Taiwanese capital with human rights activists including Wuer Kaixi, one of the leaders of the student movement that led the protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which were suppressed by China in 1989.
At the event, which took place in Taipei’s Jingmei Park, Pelosi also spoke with the bookseller arrested and interrogated in China for selling books banned by Beijing in his Hong Kong bookstore, Lam Wing-kee, and with activist Lee Ming-che, imprisoned for “subversion” in China between 2017 and 2022.
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In recent hours, Beijing has responded to the trip, which it has called a “deplorable betrayal” and “farce,” with a military deployment in the Taiwan Strait and sanctions on imports from the island.
Taiwan, with which the US has no official relations, is one of the major sources of conflict between China and the US, mainly because Washington is the island’s main arms supplier and would be its greatest military ally in the event of a military conflict with the Asian giant.
China insists on “reunifying” the People’s Republic with the island, which has been governed autonomously since the Kuomintang Nationalists (KMT) withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists and continued with the Republic of China regime, which culminated in the transition to democracy in the 1990s.