Pelosi on Taiwan trip: ‘We cannot stand by’ as China threatens ‘democracy itself’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Chinese aggression toward Taiwan is a threat to “democracy itself” in an op-ed published to coincide with her arrival in the island nation on Tuesday night local time.

The piece was published in The Washington Post as Pelosi becomes the first House Speaker to visit the democratic self-governing island in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) visited in 1997. 

Pelosi’s trip came despite warnings from the Biden administration and Beijing that it would escalate tensions between the nations’ governments.

“We cannot stand by as the [Chinese Communist Party] proceeds to threaten Taiwan — and democracy itself,” Pelosi wrote.

She noted that the Chinese government has dramatically increased tensions with Taiwan, frequently sending out patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and above the island’s air defense zone. 

She also accused China of launching cyberattacks on the Taiwanese government and exerting economic pressure by urging companies to cut ties with Taiwan, intimidating firms that maintain ties and limiting tourism from China. 

“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” Pelosi wrote. 

She rebutted Chinese criticism ahead of her visit, saying the trip does not violate the One China policy, under which the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the legitimate Chinese government and considers Taiwan’s status to be unsettled. She said the U.S. continues to oppose unilateral efforts to alter the status quo. 

Pelosi said the Taiwan Relations Act, signed into law in 1979, obliges the U.S. to treat any effort to determine Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means to be “a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” 

The U.S. has pledged to help Taiwan defend itself but is not committed to direct military engagement if China invades.