Taiwan has infuriated Beijing today after their tallest building displayed an LED message thanking Nancy Pelosi for visiting as cheering locals lined the streets as she arrived in Taipei.
Pelosi arrived in her Air Force plane – with its distinctive blue and white colors and American flag on the tail – in Taipei on Tuesday night and is set to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a day after landing in Singapore to kick off her tour of Asia.
Dozens of supporters stood with welcoming banners outside the hotel where the US House Speaker is staying despite the continued aggression from China.
The Taipei 101 skyscraper was also illuminated ahead of Pelosi’s expected visit, with signs reading: ‘TW hearts US’ and ‘Welcome to TW Speaker Pelosi.’
It was confirmed at 10:47pm local time that Pelosi’s airplane had landed in Taiwan.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wearing a pink suit, touches down in Taiwan at 10:45pm local time despite threats from China
The Taipei 101 skyscraper was seen illuminated with signs welcoming the US House Speaker to the city
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (left) and her counterpart Azhar Azizan Harun (right) pose for photograph at Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 2 August
Supporters held banners welcoming Nancy Pelosi to the country
The city’s tallest building projected LED messages welcoming the US House Speaker to the contested island
Local residents stood with banners, promoting the freedom and friendship between Taiwan and the US as Pelosi touched down in the city
The Chinese, meanwhile, backed up their words with a show of force.
As the speaker’s Air Force C40 approached Taipei, Chinese Air Force Su-35 fighter jets were crossing the Taiwan Straits, local media outlets reported.
And chilling footage shared on Chinese social network Weibo appears to show amphibious tanks on the coast of Fujian along the Taiwan Strait. Further footage shows military equipment on the move in the city of Xiamen.
This comes after flight tracking website Flighttradar24 crashed after 300,000 people logged on to watch Nancy Pelosi’s flight approach Taiwan – crippling the site’s servers.
A series of Chinese threats to shoot her airplane down caused concern – as hundreds of thousands of people tried to track her flight ahead of the landing.
This morning, keen flight followers were left stuck when trying to get on to the website, as they were told ‘something went wrong on our end, please try again.’
White House spokesman John Kirby said yesterday: ‘We’re going to make sure that she has a safe and secure visit, because that’s our responsibility.
‘And we urge as I said at the outset, we urge China to see this – if she goes – to see this for exactly what it is: nothing new, no change to our policy, and certainly not an unprecedented visit by the Speaker of the House.’
A billboard in Taipei shows a sign welcoming Speaker Pelosi to the city as cheering crowds gathered on the street
A demonstrator holds a sign during a gathering in support of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit
The Boeing C-40C flight SPAR19 carrying the delegation headed by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arriving in Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan
Hundreds of thousands of people were watching the US airplane – which took Pelosi to Malaysia – depart from Kuala Lumpur ahead of her landing in Taipei
Flightradar24 said on Twitter this morning: ‘Because of unprecedented sustained tracking interest in SPAR19, Flightradar24 services are under extremely heavy load.
‘Some users may currently experience issues accessing the site, our teams are working on restoring full functionality to all users as quickly as possible.’
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army issued multiple warnings ahead of Pelosi’s expected trip, including a new one on Monday that contained a video simulating a missile strike, aircraft carriers advancing and fighter jets in formation.
There was also a stern warning from state media.
The video was posted on WeChat on Monday morning following reports the Speaker will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday night – despite Beijing warning they could shoot her plane down and launch a military response.
Chinese state media personality Hu Xijin issued a grim message to the top House Democrat: ‘Let her go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.’
The White House said Pelosi has a right to visit Taiwan but reiterated its one-China policy. Kirby also reminded Beijing the speaker makes her own decisions on where to go and that her visit is not unprecedented.
A series of Chinese threats to shoot Pelosi’s airplane down has caused concern – as hundreds of thousands of people tried to track her flight ahead of the suspected landing
Despite the cheering crowds, there were some protesters that clearly did not like Pelosi’s visit – as they are seen here protesting on the streets of Taipei
Taiwanese people hold placards during a protest against the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Taipei, Taiwan
Some locals have not been so nice about Pelosi’s visit – as she becomes the first high-ranking US official to enter the country in more than two decades
‘We have been clear from the very beginning that she will make her own decisions and that Congress is an independent branch of government. Our Constitution embeds a separation of powers this is well known to the PRC given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations.
‘The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and the Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year,’ Kirby said in an opening statement.
Pelosi would be the first speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997. Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich was the last to visit and he has encouraged Pelosi to go there.
White House officials are concerned the Chinese don’t fully understand the concept of the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
Pelosi would be visiting at a time when the Democrats control the House, Senate and the White House, so there are concerns that the Chinese may see this as an administration move.
Last Friday, Chinese state media said the government was prepared to shoot Pelosi’s plane down if it was detected in its airspace accompanied by a fighter jet escort.
The latest warning was issued during a Chinese foreign ministry briefing by spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who said that because of Pelosi’s status as the ‘No. 3 official of the US government’, a visit to Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would ‘lead to egregious political impact’.
Lijian added that it would be ‘a gross interference in China’s internal affairs’ and would lead to ‘very serious developments and consequences.’
‘We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ Zhao told a regular daily briefing.
Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao said: ‘if she dares to go, then let us wait and see.’