US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan

By Jessie Yeung, Rob Picheta and Megan Trimble, CNN

Updated 12:26 p.m. ET, August 4, 2022
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2:38 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

China suspends some Taiwanese imports and halts export of sand to Taiwan

From CNN's Beijing Bureau and Simone McCarthy, Akanksha Sharma and Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

Farmers load crates of oranges onto a truck at an orchard on April 26, in Zigui County, Yichang City, Hubei Province of China.
Farmers load crates of oranges onto a truck at an orchard on April 26, in Zigui County, Yichang City, Hubei Province of China. (Nie Shuang/VCG/Getty Images)

China has suspended the import of citrus fruits and some fish products from Taiwan and the export of natural sand to the island, Chinese authorities said Wednesday, amid a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said Wednesday that the import of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan to China had been suspended.

In a separate statement, Chinese Customs said the import suspension of citrus fruit is a result of “pest control” and “excessive pesticide residues,” and cited “Covid prevention” for the suspension of seafood imports.

Sand export ban: Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Commerce also announced Wednesday it is immediately suspending its export of natural sand to Taiwan, a key component for the production of semi-conductor chips.

In a statement Wednesday following the announcement, Taiwan's Bureau of Mines said China suspending its sand exports would have a “limited” effect and that Taiwan's domestic demand for Chinese sand accounts for "less than 1%" in recent years.

Some context: Amid escalating tensions with Taiwan in recent years, China has previously banned imports of some Taiwanese products. Last year, China banned imports of pineapples from the island followed by some types of apples, citing “pest control.” Earlier this year, it also banned Taiwanese grouper fish, citing detection of some banned drugs and excessive antibiotics.

Beijing's recent announcements coincide with Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the first trip to the self-ruled island by a sitting speaker in 25 years, and after Beijing issued stern warnings that it would take countermeasures in retaliation. 

1:31 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Analysis: Questions mount over whether Pelosi's Taiwan trip is worth the consequences

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen arrive for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, August 3.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen arrive for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, August 3. (Taiwan Presidential Office/AP)

Whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's risky trip to Taiwan was a valuable statement of US resolve or provoked China for no strategic gain depends on when, or if, Beijing's consequent fury and military posturing abate.

Pelosi visited visited legislators and President Tsai Ing-Wen on the democratic self-governing island on Wednesday, giving her hosts the trappings of a nation-state visit sure to enrage the Chinese.

Her trip has already caused uproar in tense US-China relations, with the communist giant sending jets to the edge of Taiwanese air space and launching military exercises that sent an unsubtle message that Taiwan is surrounded.

However, if these eruptions stop short of a full-scale crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a vital strategic waterway, and avoid the possibility of miscalculations between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, or even Chinese and US assets in the region, the storm over Pelosi's mission could be temporary. The imagery of the US House speaker bolstering a democracy under China's giant shadow could become one of the signature moments in US Asia-Pacific foreign policy.

US-China tensions: The geopolitical relationship between Washington and Beijing is the most important nation-to-nation clash on the globe. It is unfolding as a generational tussle between two civilizations keen to imprint their values, economic systems and strategic hegemony on the rest of the world.

While the Biden administration has followed the Trump White House in treating China as an adversary rather than as a competitor, the prime goal of US policy is still to avoid what could be a disastrous future war between the two nations.

So if Pelosi's visit — a personal rebuke to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has made the takeover of Taiwan an existential quest — permanently worsens already poor US-China relations and brings forward what some see as an inevitable superpower confrontation, it might turn out to be a massive miscalculation.

The same will be true if her trip prompts Beijing to take steps that rock the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Taiwanese in their dynamic island home, a factor often ignored by China hawks taking tough stands to bolster their political position in the US.

Read the full analysis here.

7:27 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Taiwan's Defense Ministry says China's planned military drills equivalent to "maritime and aerial blockade"

From CNN’s Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

China's planned military exercises around Taiwan are tantamount to a "maritime and aerial blockade" and have "violated Taiwan’s territorial waters and its contiguous zone," the island's Defense Ministry said in a news briefing on Wednesday.

Defense Ministry spokesperson Maj. Gen. Sun Li-fang said China's “irrational” planned live-fire drills “threaten international waterway, challenge the international order, undermines cross-strait status quo and endangers regional security.”

“We will take countermeasures against any acts that violate our sovereignty,” Sun said, adding that Taiwan’s military does not seek a war but will always be prepared for it.

The military will strengthen alertness in a “rational way that doesn't heighten conflict," he added.

Some context: On Tuesday, China's military said it would start exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi's visit to the self-governing island and launch a series of "targeted military operations to counteract the situation," according to statements released by China's Eastern Theater Command and Ministry of Defense.

1:13 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Japan expresses concern to China over live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait

From CNN's Kathleen Benoza and Emi Jozuka in Tokyo and Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Japan has expressed concern to China over its planned live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait, the country’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Wednesday.

Matsuno told reporters during a news conference that Tokyo is once again calling for "the peaceful resolution of the cross-straits issue."

He added that Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is included in the area of sea that China announced as the target location for its military exercises.

Some context: On Tuesday, China’s military announced that it would start exercises around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

It will launch a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation,” according to statements released by its Eastern Theater Command and Ministry of Defense.

1:17 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Pelosi says China will not "stand in the way" of people coming to Taiwan

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong and Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking in the Presidential Office in Taipei. 
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking in the Presidential Office in Taipei.  (Taiwan Presidential Office/AFP/Getty Images)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said China will not "stand in the way" of people visiting Taiwan.

"I just hope that it's really clear that while China has stood in the way of Taiwan participating and going to certain meetings, that they understand that they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan," Pelosi said at a joint news conference in Taipei with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

Pelosi said the US congressional delegation's visit to the self-ruled democratic island was a "show of friendship and support," but also a source of learning and collaboration, after referencing previous trips made by US legislators. 

Pelosi reiterated the US' support for Taiwan, again saying they had come to send an "unequivocal message — America stands with Taiwan."

"We have to show the world, and that is one of the purposes of our trip, to show the world the success of the people of Taiwan," Pelosi said, pointing to the courage of the Taiwanese people to uphold democracy. 

"We want Taiwan to always have freedom with security, and we're not backing away from that," Pelosi said.

1:03 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

It's 1 p.m. in Taipei. Here's what you need to know

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwanese leaders and lawmakers on Wednesday, after arriving in the self-governing island late Tuesday night. The high-profile visit, which China has vowed to respond to, is part of a larger Asia tour by a US congressional delegation.

Here's the latest:

  • Meeting with lawmakers: Pelosi started the day by visiting Taiwan's parliament, where she delivered remarks during a conversation with Taiwanese lawmakers from different parties. However, she stopped short of giving a formal speech in front of the full house.
  • Deputy speaker's welcome: Tsai Chi-chang, the deputy speaker of Taiwan's legislature, thanked Pelosi for her visit during the parliamentary meeting, hailing her as a "guiding light" in safeguarding human rights.
  • Tiananmen mention: Pelosi touched on her longstanding support for human rights, referring to her previous 1991 trip to Asia, when she unfurled a small banner in Beijing that read "to those who died for democracy in China." It was just two years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a brutal military crackdown that killed pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese capital. "Our visit was about human rights," Pelosi said.
  • Civilian honor: Pelosi then met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who bestowed upon the Speaker Taiwan's highest civilian honor.
  • US commitment: Speaking beside President Tsai, Pelosi praised Taiwan as one of the world's freest societies, and reiterated America's "solidarity" with the island. She wanted to make it "unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship," she added.
  • Tsai's comments: President Tsai called Pelosi one of Taiwan's "most devoted friends." The island will “firmly uphold” its sovereignty and do “whatever it takes” to strengthen its self-defense capability, Tsai said, adding: "Taiwan will not back down."
  • China's response: The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a lengthy statement Tuesday after Pelosi's arrival in Taipei, saying it would "definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity." The visit "has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations," it warned.
  • Military exercises: China's military said it was on "high alert" and would conduct exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi's trip, saying in statements it was launching a series "targeted military operations to counteract the situation."
  • Close eye on response: Taiwan's Defense Ministry expressed its "solemn condemnation" of China’s live-fire drills and said it was keeping a close watch on Beijing's military activities around the island.

Read more about Pelosi's visit here.

12:26 p.m. ET, August 4, 2022

Analysis: Does Taiwan have its own airspace? China sets military drills close to island after Pelosi visit

Analysis from CNN's Brad Lendon

China is set to stage military drills around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday to protest Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island.

The Chinese Defense Ministry released a map of six zones around the island where it plans to conduct air and sea exercises as well as long-range live-fire exercises, as part of what a spokesman described as a "blockade."

Ships and aircraft have been warned to stay out of the areas during the drills.

The ADIZ: The exercise areas announced by Beijing extend well into Taiwan's air defense identification zone — a buffer of airspace commonly referred to as an ADIZ — and in some cases encroach on the island's territorial airspace, an area recognized by international law as extending 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from shore.

Does Taiwan have its own airspace? Taiwan's disputed status makes this question hard to answer definitively.

While Taiwan is a self-governing democracy, China insists it has sovereignty over the island and is fiercely opposed to any suggestion that it could be considered an independent country — meaning in Beijing's eyes, Taiwan's airspace is essentially China's airspace.

However, even if "China doesn't recognize Taiwan, they've respected Taiwan's airspace," said Drew Thompson, visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and a former US Defense Department official.

Chinese commercial aviation companies also respected Taiwan's airspace, Thompson said, recognizing a "convention that effectively treats Taiwan as independent under civil aviation guidelines."

Most countries in the world do not recognize Taiwan as an independent country — holding diplomatic relations with Beijing rather than Taipei.

Read the full analysis here.

12:42 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

Pakistan reaffirms "One China" policy as Pelosi visits Taiwan

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the "One China" policy on Tuesday, adding that it “firmly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In a statement, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is "deeply concerned over the evolving situation in the Taiwan Strait, which has serious implications for regional peace and stability."

The statement was released as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed with a congressional delegation in Taipei, marking a significant show of support for Taiwan despite China’s threats of retaliation over the visit.

Without mentioning Pelosi or the United States, the Pakistani ministry said the “world cannot afford another crisis that has negative consequences for global peace, security and economy.” It said the world is already facing a “critical security situation” due to the war in Ukraine, which has destabilized food and energy security.

It also reiterated Islamabad's calls for bilateral ties to be based on “mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful resolution of issues by upholding of principles of UN charter, international law and bilateral agreements.”
12:03 a.m. ET, August 3, 2022

More than two decades ago, Taiwan faced a cross-strait crisis when China fired missiles in response to president’s US visit

The Chinese Communist Party founded the People's Republic of China in 1949 — kicking off years of military conflicts across the Taiwan Strait in the 1950s, with Beijing shelling several outlying islands controlled by Taipei on two separate occasions.

The last major crisis took place in 1995-1996, after Taiwan's President at the time, Lee Teng-hui, visited the United States.

Lee, who had earned a doctoral degree from Cornell University in New York state, returned to his alma mater in 1995 to deliver a speech at a reunion event, which was broadcast throughout Asia and across the world, according to the university.

Cornell University President Frank Rhodes and Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui pose with their wives, Lee Wen-hui and Rosa Rhodes prior to a private dinner at the president's home on June 10,1995 in Ithaca, New York.
Cornell University President Frank Rhodes and Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui pose with their wives, Lee Wen-hui and Rosa Rhodes prior to a private dinner at the president's home on June 10,1995 in Ithaca, New York. (Bill Mueller/AP)

Enraged by the visit, and at the US for granting Lee a visa, China fired missiles into waters around Taiwan. The crisis ended only after the US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area in a forceful show of support for Taipei.

Experts say Lee was the first Taiwan leader to float the idea of the island being a separate, distinct entity from the Communist-ruled mainland — making him a particularly sensitive figure for Beijing, even decades later.