Pelosi’s Flight Lands In Taiwan—As 600,000 Follow Along Online

Topline
More than 708,000 people used a flight-tracking website to follow the progress of a U.S. Air Force plane carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that landed at Songshan Airport in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei on Tuesday, in a visit that comes despite China’s warnings of serious repercussions.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly news conference in the Capitol on … [+] Friday, July 29, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Timeline

5:25 a.m. ETThe U.S. Navy deployed four warships off Taiwan, including an aircraft carrier, in an apparent deterrent gesture ahead of Pelosi’s anticipated trip to Taiwan, Reuters reported.

9:25 a.m. ETThe Taiwanese Army raised its combat readiness Tuesday and will stay on high alert through at least Thursday, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

10:11 a.m. ETAfter leaving Kuala Lumpur Tuesday afternoon, local time, a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40 aircraft believed to be carrying Pelosi flew across Southeast Asia—avoiding the South China Sea, according to the tracking service FlightRadar24.

10:30 a.m. ETThe high interest in the tracker forced FlightRadar24 to set up an online “waiting room” for new users trying to access the tracking info as the site says it is facing “usual volumes” of traffic.

10:45 a.m. ETReports emerged of Chinese fighter jets touching the median line of the Taiwan Strait in an apparent act of intimidation, and China’s military announced it will conduct offshore live-fire drills around the island starting as early as Tuesday night, local time, amid military exercises it has been carrying out since last week.

10:47 a.m. ETPelosi’s flight (SPAR19) landed in Taipei, as 708,000 people were following it live on FlightRadar’s website—more than any other flight ever tracked on the website.

10:56 a.m. ETJust as the flight landed, China issued a statement condemning Pelosi’s visit, arguing it “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence.’”

11:00 a.m. ET“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” Pelosi tweeted, saying the discussions with Taiwan “reaffirm our support for our partner and promote our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

11:11 a.m. ETSome 26 Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Whip John Thune (S.D.), wrote a letter in support of the trip Tuesday, calling it “consistent with the United States’ One China policy” (a policy of ambiguity towards Taiwan), with notable absentees including Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).

3:30 p.m. ETIn a White House press conference, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. will not engage in “saber rattling” as a result of potential Chinese retaliation, but he does expect China to react.

What To Watch For
Pelosi is expected to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and meet with its legislators on Wednesday, Taiwan’s United Daily News reported earlier.

Further Reading
Chinese warplanes take to skies, US warships on move before expected Pelosi visit to Taiwan (Reuters)

Washington Urges Calm Over Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit But Tensions Cause Asian Markets To Slide (Forbes)

This is a developing story.

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