Taipei: US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed Taiwan's parliament on Wednesday and was due to meet with its president as well as human rights activists during a visit to the island that has infuriated Beijing.
China condemned the highest-level US visit to Taiwan in 25 years as a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, responding with a flurry of military exercises, summoning the US ambassador in Beijing, and announcing the suspension of several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
Pelosi arrived in Taipei late on Tuesday on an unannounced but closely watched trip, saying that it shows unwavering US commitment to the island.
On Wednesday, Pelosi thanked President Tsai Ing-wen for her leadership, called for increased inter-parliamentary cooperation.
"We commend Taiwan for being one of the freest societies in the world," Pelosi told Taiwan's parliament.
Pelosi is not the first House Speaker to go to Taiwan - Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.
Early on Wednesday, China's customs department announced a suspension of imports of citrus fruits, chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan, while its commerce ministry suspended export of natural sand to Taiwan.
Shortly after Pelosi's arrival, China's military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, with Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
China's foreign ministry said Pelosi's visit seriously damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, "has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity." Before Pelosi's arrival on Tuesday, Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese military said it was on high alert and will launch "targeted military operations" in response to Pelosi's visit.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday after Pelosi's arrival that 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.