House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Friday not to let China isolate Taiwan in her parting remarks from Tokyo, the last stop on her Asian tour that set off a diplomatic crisis after her brief stop in Taipei.
Mrs. Pelosi, who is leading a delegation of six Democratic lawmakers, spoke from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo where she met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Hiroyuki Hosoda, the speaker of its House of Representatives.
“The Chinese have tried to isolate Taiwan,” she said. “They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us” from traveling there.
“They don’t do our travel schedule,” she said.
She is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the self-governing island just over 100 miles off mainland China since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia Republican, visited more than two decades ago.
Chinese officials, who say the visit is the latest in a series of moves by Washington to upend the “One China” policy in place since the Carter administration, have warned that the trip would cause serious harm to already-tense bilateral relations and have commenced a series of provocative military exercises surrounding Taiwan.
Japanese defense officials said five ballistic missiles fired by the Chinese military had landed within its exclusive economic zone ahead of the U.S. delegation’s arrival in Tokyo on Thursday.
Japan also faced a diplomatic snub by China amid the fallout.
China’s foreign minister canceled a planned meeting on Thursday with his Japanese counterpart at the ASEAN summit in Cambodia, in retaliation for Japan’s signing of a Group of 7 statement criticizing China’s bluster over the speaker’s visit to Taiwan.
Mrs. Pelosi said that China used her visit as an “excuse” to ramp up its aggressions in the region. She said the intent of visiting Taiwan was not to upset the status quo and urged Beijing to remain at the table with the U.S.
“We are two big countries,” she said. “We have to have communication among us.”
“We’re trying to find common ground,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “But 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.”
“In all cases, in each of the countries we visited, we had very positive conversations and great respect for what they are doing,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We were very honored to be received so well in the region.
• David R. Sands contributed to this report.