China has condemned Pelosi’s trip, which took the delegation to Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea as well as Taiwan and Japan.
Its state broadcaster said the military exercises, which began on Thursday – the day after Pelosi left Taiwan – and are set to end on Sunday, would be the largest conducted by China in the Taiwan Strait. The exercises have involved live fire on the waters and in the airspace around the island.
Japan said that five of nine missiles fired towards its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Tokyo lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident, which Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi termed “unprecedented”.
Pelosi lauded Taiwan’s democracy, economic successes and – in a veiled dig at China – its human rights record, noting support by Taiwan, the first Asian nation to allow same-sex marriage, for LGBTQ rights.
“The fact is, I have said it again and again, if we do not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights any place in the world,” she said.
“China has some contradictions – some progress in terms of lifting people up, some horrible things happening in terms of the Uyghurs. In fact, it’s been labelled a genocide.”
Human rights groups accuse Beijing of abuse against Xinjiang’s Uyghur ethnic group, accusations China rejects.