Former diplomat Victor Gao defended China’s dramatic reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to neighbouring Taiwan, claiming that China’s decision to begin military drills due to Ms Pelosi’s visit was justified. The former diplomat claimed Ms Pelosi had ignored warnings not to go to Taiwan from, China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden. Mr Gao branded the visit as “unauthorised and illegitimate” at a time of heightened hostility between China and the US.
BBC host Martha Kearney said: “Why has the visit from Nancy Pelosi provoked such a strong reaction from China?”
Mr Gao told Radio 4s Today programme: “I think China’s reaction is fully expected and fully justified.
“Why Nancy Pelosi went to Taipei not as a tourist, not as a grand old… Visit to the shopping mall, she is there in her official capacity as speaker of the House of Representatives.
“And she ranks number two in the line of succession to the presidency of the United States, next only to the Vice President of the United States.
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Mr Gao added: “China has given repeated warnings before her visit, against her visit.
“And she disregarded the Chinese warnings, she disregarded President Biden’s counselling, as well as the Pentagon’s counselling.
“Therefore her visit is illegitimate and unauthorised, and China is indifferent about that.”
Ms Kearney added: “Well whatever China’s objections to the visit, and indeed the status of it, does it really warrant the idea of these military drills including a live fire ammunition?”
Mr Gao said: “Absolutely!”
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Ms Pelosi said: “Our Congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.
“Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Indo-Pacific — including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance.
“Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.
“Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts long-standing United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”