Why is Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan so controversial?

More than 30 years ago, in 1991, Nancy PelosiDemocrat from California, angered the Chinese government appearing in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and unfurling a banner honoring dissidents killed in the 1989 protests.

The banner that read: “To those who died for democracy in China”.

Pelosi, along with two other members of Congress, was later pulled aside for questioning by Chinese police.

This Tuesday, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi, 82, ignored the fierce warnings from China and landed in Taiwan to support his government and meet with human rights activists.

Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan capped her decades as one of the United States’ main criticisms of the Beijing government, especially on human rights issues, and underscores the long history of the US Congress taking a tougher line than the White House in dealings with Beijing.

Second in line for the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, Pelosi became the highest-ranking American politician to travel to Taiwan since then-President Newt Gingrich in 1997. He led a delegation of six other House members.

In 2015, she took a group of House Democrats to Tibet, the first such visit since the widespread unrest of 2008. Pelosi has regularly spoken on human rights issues in Tibet and has met the Dalai Lamawhom Beijing denigrates as a violent separatist.

Photo: Reuters

Pelosi has met with protesters pro-democracy Hong Kong and has expressed support for ethnic Uyghurs, who according to US officials have been the target of genocide in China’s Xinjiang region.

Last year, he oversaw the passage of legislation in the House that imposes economic sanctions on China for goods sold to Americans through the forced labor of Muslim Uyghurs.

“I am not second to anyone in the United States Congress in my criticism of ChinaPelosi said according to NPR.

China believes that the visits by US officials to Taiwan send an encouraging signal to the island’s independence camp. Washington has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan.but is legally obligated to provide you with the means to defend yourself.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s claims of sovereignty and says only its people can decide its future.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said a trip would lead to “very serious events and consequences”.

With information from Reuters

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