Pelosi hails Taiwan’s free society as China holds military drills, vents anger

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China furiously condemned the highest-level US visit to Taiwan in 25 years as House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the self-ruled island as “one of the freest societies in the world” in a speech to the parliament in Taipei on Wednesday.

Beijing demonstrated its anger with Pelosi’s presence on an island that it says is part of China with a burst of military activity in the surrounding waters, and by summoning the US ambassador in Beijing, and announcing the suspension of several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Pelosi arrived in Taipei late on Tuesday on an unannounced but closely watched trip, saying that it shows unwavering US commitment to Taiwan’s democracy.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, Pelosi praised President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – a red line for China.

“We thank you for your leadership. We want the world to recognize that,” Pelosi said, while also calling for increased inter-parliamentary cooperation.

Pelosi went on to say that new US legislation aimed at strengthening the American chip industry to compete with China “offers greater opportunity for US-Taiwan economic cooperation.”

Now more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, Pelosi told Tsai, adding that America’s determination to preserve democracy in Taiwan and the rest of the world remains iron-clad.

She was also set to meet with human rights activists later in the day.