Pelosi leaves Taiwan after visit that exacerbated tensions with China

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after wrapping up a visit that exacerbated US-China tensions.

Earlier in the day, Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the capital Taipei.

Pelosi told a joint news conference that the world “today faces a choice between democracy and authoritarianism,” highlighting her country’s determination to preserve democracy in Taiwan and the world, according to the New York Times.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is the first by a US House Speaker in 25 years, following Republican Newt Gingrich’s 1997 trip to meet then-Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui.

Pelosi visited Taiwan as part of an Asian tour that began Monday and includes Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

On Tuesday night, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns in the context of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Shi Feng told the US ambassador that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “extremely bad” and that its consequences would be “very serious”.

In response to Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese Defense Ministry earlier announced that it would launch a “series of targeted military operations” in the vicinity of Taiwan.

Diplomatically, the United States recognizes China’s authority over Taiwan, but Beijing resents the close ties between Washington and the autonomous island, which China considers an inalienable part of its territory.