US House of representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that China cannot stop US officials from travelling to Taiwan.
“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there,” she said in Tokyo on Friday on the last leg of her Asia tour.
Ms Pelosi’s comments came two days after she visited the self-ruled island nation that China considers to be a part of its own territory.
Her visit sparked backlash from China, which has retaliated with military exercises in waters around Taiwan. Before the visit, Beijing had issued repeated warnings and threatened serious consequences if Ms Pelosi went to Taiwan.
On Wednesday, Ms Pelosi said in Taipei that the US’s commitment to democracy in Taiwan and elsewhere “remains ironclad”.
Ms Pelosi, second in the line of succession to the US presidency, became the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
On Friday, she said that her visit was not intended to change the status quo for the island nation but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
She also praised Taiwan’s hard-fought democracy, including its progress in diversity and success in technology and business, and criticised China’s violations of trade agreements, proliferation of weapons and human rights problems.
The US has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan and formally recognises Beijing’s one-China policy.
It, however, supplies arms to Taipei under the Taiwan Relations Act and has also promised to defend the island nation in the event of an attack from China.
She said that China had launched the strikes “probably using our visit as an excuse”.
Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida said that China’s military exercises around Taiwan are a “grave problem” that threatens regional peace and security.
Beijing launched five ballistic missiles into the waters that Tokyo considers to be its exclusive economic zone, Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi said on Thursday, adding that this is the first time such an incident has ever taken place.
Japan said it lodged a protest via diplomatic routes.
Ms Pelosi and five other members of Congress were in Tokyo after visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.