Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave a forceful defense of Taiwan on Wednesday following her meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
“Our delegation came here to send an unequivocal message: America stands with Taiwan,” Pelosi said at a press conference.
Pelosi on Tuesday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to set foot in Taiwan in 25 years, angering Beijing, which views the self-governing, democratic island as part of China’s territory.
At the press conference, Pelosi said she respected the “One China” policy and the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the United States to supporting Taiwan without a promise of direct engagement if China invades.
“We want Taiwan to always have freedom with security,” Pelosi said. “And we’re not backing away from that.”
Her trip has prompted a flurry of U.S. military activity in the region, and China has reportedly responded by placing two of its own aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and flying its planes near the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait from the sea.
When asked about Beijing’s military activity surrounding her visit, Pelosi downplayed its importance.
“There are certain insecurities on the part of the President of China as to his own political situation that he’s rattling a saber, I don’t know,” Pelosi said.
“But it doesn’t really matter,” she continued. “What matters to us is that we salute the successes of Taiwan, we work together for the security of Taiwan and we just take great lessons from the democracy of Taiwan.”
The trip to Taiwan is deeply personal for Pelosi, who has long rallied against Chinese human rights issues that stretch back decades.
“That’s one of the purposes of our trip: to show the world the success of the people of Taiwan,” Pelosi said. “Their courage to change their own country to become more democratic.”