US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
Live television images showed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who flew in on a US military aircraft into Taipei's Songshan Airport, being greeted on arrival by Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu.
"Our congressional delegation's visit to Taiwan honors America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy," the most senior US legislator said in a statement moments after her plane landed.
Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, is the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years and Beijing has made clear that it regards her presence as a major provocation, setting the region on edge.
"America's solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy," she said.
China condemns visit
China immediately condemned Pelosi's visit, with the foreign ministry saying it 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." The ministry said it had lodged a strong protest with the United States.
Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday before her arrival, and Chinese state media said People's Liberation Army would hold exercises near Taiwan from Thursday through Sunday.
Pelosi is currently on a tour of Asia and while neither she nor her office confirmed the Taipei visit, multiple US and Taiwanese media outlets had reported it was on the cards - triggering days of anger from Beijing.
Moments before her arrival, Chinese state media announced advanced Su-35 fighter jets were crossing the Taiwan Strait. The brief report had no details on timing or precise location of the crossing.
"The US breach of faith on the Taiwan issue is despicable," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in comments published on his ministry's website earlier Tuesday that did not specifically mention Pelosi.