TAIPEI, Taiwan – In Taiwan, where many are accustomed to threats from China, the standoff between Washington and Beijing over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit received scant attention before Tuesday, only skipping over news about the upcoming election and celebrity rumors that day, when she was arriving. imminent.
However, with Ms Pelosi’s arrival late Tuesday, the media and crowds gathered at the airport to watch her plane and at the hotel where she was expected to stay. Many raised banners in support of the trip, while others spoke of the visit, the highest-level trip in 25 years, as a historic moment.
Video provided by a Tibetan activist, Tashi Tsering, showed people gathering Tuesday night outside the Grand Hyatt Taipei hotel, where Pelosi was expected to spend the night. A number of them held banners reading “Taiwan people welcome US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi”, “Taiwan helps” and “Taiwan – China”.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has remained silent, although political advisers close to her have said they welcome visits by US officials. Ms. Tsai is expected to meet Ms. Pelosi on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s military said it would boost combat readiness in anticipation of a possible response from China. On the same day, Taiwan’s Prime Minister, Su Tsing-chang, expressed his “warm welcome to any foreign visitor who visits,” adding that it was up to the guests to decide when to visit.
With her arrival in Taiwan, Ms. Pelosi, a longtime outspoken critic of China, became the highest-ranking member of the US government to visit since 1997, when Newt Gingrich visited as Speaker of the House.
All this attention may have made Ms. Pelosi’s trip one of the most closely followed of all. As it took off from Kuala Lumpur, more than 100,000 people were tracking it on Flightradar24. The next closest trip had about 3,000 views.
By the time Pelosi’s flight turned north toward Taiwan several hours later, Flightradar24 said it was struggling to support traffic.
“Due to the unprecedented ongoing tracking interest in SPAR19, Flightradar24 services are under very heavy loads,” the service wrote on an official Twitter account, citing the flight number. “Some users may have problems accessing the site.”
Huang, Zhao Yuan, a 53-year-old business owner, monitored the area near Songshan Airport to watch Ms Pelosi’s plane land. She described it as a “historic moment”.
She said, using an acronym for the Chinese Communist Party. “This incident demonstrates the independence of Taiwan.”
In the United States, the prospect of Ms. Pelosi’s visit was politically charged.
While Mr. Biden has said publicly that the US military told him this was not the time for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, his aides said he had decided not to ask them to cancel her trip outright out of his respect for the independence of Congress.
But Republicans encouraged the speaker to move on.