U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday. Pelosi said during a Wednesday press conference that she included a visit to Taiwan during her Asia-Pacific trip to "salute a thriving democracy." Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a Capitol press conference Wednesday that she went to Taiwan during her Asian-Pacific trip to "salute a thriving democracy."
"Our purpose in going to Taiwan was to say we have a strong relationship built on status quo, which we support," Pelosi said.
China, which still claims the island as part of its territory, warned against the visit and responded aggressively with military drills and economic sanctions.
Pelosi, who is the first House speaker to travel to Taiwan since 1997, said the Taiwan status quo was established by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, six joint U.S.-China communiques at that time and the Six Assurances agreement with China.
"There's no departure from that," Pelosi said. "But in keeping with that we will not allow China to isolate Taiwan. They've kept Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, other things where Taiwan could make a very valued contribution. And they may keep them from going there, but they will not keep us from going to Taiwan."
Pelosi was asked about the Chinese military "saber-rattling" exercises in response to her visit.
"I think what we saw with China is they were trying to establish the new normal, and we just can't let that happen." Pelosi replied.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., joined Pelosi's delegation to Taiwan.
"Clearly China had their plans before we took our trip. And what they wanted to accomplish was to deter us from going to visit our friend and ally," Meeks said. "And I think what this trip did, which they did not expect, is show that no matter what President Xi says we are going to stand by our friends and allies."
Meeks said the visit was a clear signal to China that the United States will not be deterred from supporting friends and allies.
"So I think that China now has to take a different viewpoint on it, because we are unequivocal on what our positions will be with reference to our friends and allies," Meeks said.
Asked by reporters about China sanctioning her and her family, Pelosi laughed, shrugged and said, "There's no reaction. Who cares?"
"We didn't go there to talk about China. We went there to praise Taiwan. And we went there to show our friendship, to say China cannot isolate Taiwan," Pelosi said.
North Korea sent a letter of solidarity to China, calling Pelosi's visit to Taiwan "a serious infringement on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and an unpardonable political provocation aimed to defame the authority of the [Chinese Community Party]."
Pelosi defended the trip Tuesday and called Chinese President Xi Jinping "a bully."