Pelosi vows China will not isolate Taiwan amid military exercises

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TOKYO — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed that China would not succeed in isolating Taiwan, as she capped off her Asia tour on Friday amid a flurry of Chinese military exercises that have sent fears of conflict in the region skyrocketing.

Pelosi’s brief and unannounced trip this week to Taiwan brought to the fore the rising tensions between the United States and China, and the impact of the souring relations on U.S. allies that are economically dependent on China.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over Taiwan, a self-governed democracy of 23 million people, and has sought to exclude the island from global affairs by picking off its diplomatic partners and reacting furiously to exchanges between Taipei and foreign officials.

“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places but they will not isolate Taiwan,” Pelosi said in Tokyo, the last stop of her tour. “They are not doing our traveling schedule, the Chinese government is not doing that.”

China launches military exercises around Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit

Despite Beijing’s insistence that issues with Taiwan are matters of “internal affairs,” Pelosi’s visit underscored broad concern among U.S. allies about conflict in the Taiwan Strait because of their geographic proximity and the passageway’s role as a vital trade route. Japan’s concerns with potential military action by China against Taiwan — which is less than 100 miles from Japan’s westernmost point — have shaped Tokyo’s defense spending and diplomatic calculations.

China’s People’s Liberation Army released video on Aug. 4 of a live-fire missile exercise targeting waters off the coast of Taiwan. (Video: People’s Liberation Army)

On Thursday, as a part of the military exercises Beijing announced in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, five of China’s ballistic missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, prompting Tokyo to raise complaints through diplomatic channels.

In Taiwan, meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang on Friday called China an “evil neighbor flexing its muscles on our doorstep” with military exercises that “arbitrarily sabotage” one of the world’s busiest waterways, according to a statement from Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, the executive branch of its government.

Pelosi’s Taiwan visit ushers in new phase of China’s pressure campaign

The Chinese military maneuvers are expected to continue through the weekend. The exercises, which come closer to Taiwan than in previous cross-strait crises, have heightened fears of a military clash. Taiwan has said the drills, affecting six areas around the island, are tantamount to a sea and air blockade.

Speaking to reporters in New Taipei City, Su added that China’s actions would draw “global condemnation” and said that Taiwan would not give in to pressure and would work with democratic partners to prevent “reckless behavior from authoritarian dictatorships.”

He promised strong government assistance for Taiwanese businesses hit by China’s import bans on citrus, fish and other goods but downplayed the disruption to Taiwan’s economy, saying that many local companies had already soured on the market after realizing how often “politics disrupts economic activity” in China.

Shepherd and Kuo reported from Taipei.

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