The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nancy Pelosi departs Taiwan, ending contentious visit that angered China

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated U.S. support for Taiwan during a joint news conference with President Tsai Ing-wen on Aug. 3. (Video: The Washington Post)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) departed Taiwan around 6 p.m. local time Wednesday after meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other lawmakers, defying Beijing’s threats of retaliation over the visit and raising fears of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

During a ceremony at the presidential office, Pelosi accepted an award from the president on behalf of Congress and declared the United States’ solidarity with Taiwan “crucial.” There is “a struggle between autocracy and democracy in the world” right now, Pelosi said in a subsequent news conference, adding that one of the purposes of the trip is “to show the world the success of the people of Taiwan, the courage to change their own country, to become more democratic.”

Here’s what to know

  • Pelosi was the first House speaker to travel to Taiwan since Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1997 — who said he sees parallels with this week’s trip.
  • The U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated to its worst state in years. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Tuesday at a meeting in Shanghai that U.S. politicians were “playing with fire,” according to a transcript released by the Foreign Ministry. .
  • Biden administration officials have said privately they have deep concerns about the timing of her trip, but that the visit did not signal an official change in the U.S. approach toward China or Taiwan.