‘I’d have gone!’ Pelosi’s defiant Taiwan trip is ‘the right thing to do’, says Widdecombe

US's Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taiwan's capital Taipei

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And the formidable former Tory MP said if she had been in a similar position, she would have made the trip without hesitation. Ms Pelosi’s plane landed on the island yesterday. Her arrival was hugely contentious, because Taiwan, though autonomous and with a democratically elected government, is seen by China as part of its territory in accordance with its One China doctrine.

She was greeted by Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, who thanked the 82-year-old Democrat for her support.

However, China demonstrated its anger with Ms Pelosi’s presence with a series of military exercises in surrounding waters, as well as summoning the US ambassador in Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Ms Widdecombe, who is also a former Brexit Party MEP, told Express.co.uk: “I do think it’s the right thing to do.

“I know that China says it is inflammatory, but Taiwan is feeling very isolated and very insecure.

“The USA has already said that they will defend Taiwan, and I think it helps if the States says, ‘look, we really mean it’.

“China needs to know that that is a serious threat, not just something said in order to try and deter them, but something that they actually mean.”

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Asked whether she would have travelled to the island in similar circumstances, Ms Widdecombe was unequivocal.

She said: “I would, yes.”

Ms Pelosi, who has now left Taiwan for Singapore, the next leg of her tour of Asia, arrived with a Congressional delegation, told President Tsai: “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan.

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“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that’s the message we are bringing here, today.”

New US legislation aimed at strengthening the American chip industry to compete with China “offers greater opportunity for US Taiwan economic cooperation”, Ms Pelosi stressed.

She added: “We thank you for your leadership. We want the world to recognise that.”

Shortly after Ms Pelosi’s plane touched down, China’s military announced joint air and sea drills close to the island, as well as test launches of conventional missiles in the sea to the east.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua also warned of live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan scheduled to begin on Thursday through until Sunday.

China’s foreign ministry claimed the visit seriously damaged peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and “would have “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said today Beijing has not seen its military drills around Taiwan causing freedom of navigation issues.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Chinese military actions were legitimate and intended as a deterrent to Taiwan.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States “is not going to be intimidated” by China’s threats or bellicose rhetoric and that there is no reason her visit should precipitate a crisis or conflict.

US President Joe Biden previously suggested the US military had expressed doubts about the wisdom and timing of Ms Pelosi’s visit – although the Whitehouse subsequently reiterated she had a right to go.

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