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House Speaker Pelosi defends Taiwan trip, calls Chinese president 'a bully'

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended last week's trip to Taiwan and called Chinese President Xi Jinping "a bully" in her first interview since returning to Washington, D.C. Photo via Taiwan Presidential Office/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/96f0be701785157a001e19c5b93ba00b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended last week's trip to Taiwan and called Chinese President Xi Jinping "a bully" in her first interview since returning to Washington, D.C. Photo via Taiwan Presidential Office/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her high-stakes visit to Taiwan last week, despite China's aggressive response with military drills near the democratic island and economic sanctions, in her first interview since returning to Washington, D.C.

The California Democrat, who is the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich in 1997, said "Yes, it was worth it," while calling Chinese President Xi Jinping "a scared bully" in an interview Tuesday with NBC.

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"As Speaker of the House and the distinguished delegation that I went there with, we were very well-received," Pelosi said. "Thousands of people were in the streets and we were received by the President of Taiwan."

Pelosi and a bipartisan congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 2 after weeks of angry warnings against the trip from Beijing. Though run by an independent government, China still claims the island as part of its territory.

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On the day of Pelosi's visit, China sent 21 warplanes, including more than a dozen fighter aircraft, through Taiwan's air defense zone. China has continued conducting military drills, saying on Monday that it carried out a new round of drills around Taiwan.

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China also retaliated economically, restricting imports on items including citrus fruits and frozen mackerel from Taiwan and banning the export of natural sand.

"The people of Taiwan welcomed the visit. The Chinese government may not have," Pelosi said Tuesday. "But China will not be allowed to isolate Taiwan."

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"The President of China acts like a bully and has his own insecurities," Pelosi added. "It doesn't mean I am going to have him do my schedule for members of Congress."

While the White House backed Pelosi's trip, several military officials questioned the timing as the Biden administration continues to work with China to keep it from rearming Putin in Russia's war in Ukraine.

Pelosi discounted the timing and said the trip to Taiwan had originally been planned for April during a scheduled Asia tour, but was canceled after she tested positive for COVID-19.

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"It may appear to be symbolic to you, but it was very substantial to us," Pelosi said. "For us to listen to the people of the region about our full agenda and not to say 'we're not going to Taiwan because the Chinese may act up,'" she said.

Pelosi also took issue with the attention her trip received after she said a group of senators, who traveled to Taiwan earlier this year, received no attention.

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"It was bipartisan, it was high-powered, including the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee," Pelosi said. "Nobody said a word."

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