By MARI YAMAGUCHI – Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — China will not be able to isolate Taiwan by preventing U.S. officials from traveling there, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday in Tokyo as she ended a tour of Asia highlighted by a visit to Taipei which infuriated Beijing.
Beijing has tried to isolate Taiwan, including preventing the self-governing island from joining the World Health Organization, Pelosi said.
‘They may try to stop Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they won’t isolate Taiwan by stopping us from traveling there,’ she said, defending her trip which has heightened tensions In the region.
Pelosi said his visit to Taiwan was not intended to change the status quo for the island but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan and mainland China. She hailed Taiwan’s hard-fought democracy and successes in technology and business, while criticizing China’s violations of trade agreements, arms proliferation and human rights issues, including its treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority.
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“If we don’t stand up for human rights in China because of business interests, we lose all moral authority to talk about human rights anywhere in the world,” Pelosi said in a statement. press conference. “China has contradictions – progress in terms of uplifting people, horrible things are happening when it comes to Uyghurs. In fact, it has been called genocide.
Pelosi said “the two great countries” – the United States and China – need to communicate on areas such as climate and other global issues. “This is not about our visit to determine what the US-China relationship is. long-term challenge and again we have to recognize that we have to work together on certain areas.”
China announced on Friday that it was canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on a range of issues ranging from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit. He also announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and his family. These sanctions are usually essentially symbolic in nature.
China, which claims Taiwan and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary, called Pelosi’s visit a provocation and on Thursday began military exercises, including missile firing training, in six areas surrounding Taiwan, in what could be his biggest since the mid-1990s.
Pelosi, the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said China launched the “strikes probably using our visit as an excuse.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the Chinese military drills pose a “serious problem” that threatens regional peace and security after five missiles launched as part of the drills landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone near a isolated island in the southwest.
Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and his congressional delegation, said the missile launches must be “stopped immediately”.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said he believed China intentionally fired the five missiles into the Japanese-claimed area, which China refuses to acknowledge. The ministry said it believed four other missiles fired from China’s southeast coast of Fujian flew over Taiwan.
Tetsuo Kotani, a professor at Meikai University and senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, tweeted that the trip gave China an excuse to ignore the median line in the Taiwan Strait which for decades has been a unofficial buffer zone, and the exclusive Japanese economic zone, and could add risks to American and other warships passing through the strait.
Japan has in recent years boosted its defense capability and troop presence in southwestern Japan and outlying islands, including Okinawa, about 700 kilometers (420 miles) northeast of Taiwan. Many locals say they fear their island could soon become embroiled in a conflict in Taiwan. Okinawa is home to the majority of the approximately 50,000 US troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact.
Pelosi and five other members of Congress arrived in Tokyo on Thursday evening after visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.
During their breakfast, Kishida said Pelosi and his delegation discussed common security issues involving China, North Korea and Russia and pledged to work for peace and stability in Taiwan. Pelosi also held talks with his Japanese counterpart, Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda, after observing a plenary session in which they were greeted with a standing ovation.
Japan and its key ally, the United States, have pushed for new security and economic frameworks with other democracies in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe to counter China’s growing influence amid growing tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
Days before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a group of senior Japanese lawmakers, including former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, visited the island and discussed regional security with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing- wen. Ishiba said Japan, while working with the United States to prevent conflict in the Indo-Pacific, wanted a defense agreement with Taiwan.
Chinese military drills launched on Thursday involve its navy, air force and other departments and are due to last until Sunday. They include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters.
Taiwan has put its army on high alert and organized civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the region.
China has also flown warplanes into Taiwan and blocked imports of its citrus fruits and fish.
China views the island as a breakaway province and views visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognition of its sovereignty.
The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the United States remains committed to a “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not stop Pelosi from visiting.
Pelosi has long been a human rights advocate in China. She, along with other lawmakers, visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.
As leader of the House of Representatives, Pelosi’s trip heightened US-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress. The last House speaker to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997.
China and Taiwan, which separated in 1949 after a civil war, have no official relations but multibillion-dollar commercial ties.
Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea and Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.
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