WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) told Raw Story that he thinks his Republican colleagues need to stand with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Pelosi landed in Taiwan a little after 10 p.m. local time amid China's threats that they'd conduct military exercises around the island while she is there.
Sullivan explained that he was among the group of Republicans who went to Taiwan in 2021 as China was withholding vaccinations to the island. Sullivan was joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) and too faced threats from China as they delivered vaccines. China told the 2021 group to reconsider their trip as well, but it was ignored.
"Legislators have been going over there for decades as part of our Taiwan Relations Act responsibility," Sullivan said, noting that his first deployment as a Marine was to the Taiwan Strait in 1995. "What they want to do right now, the Chinese Communist Party, is cause dissension in America's leaders. And what I'm trying to do with that statement is to close ranks ... and say, we're not going to allow that. We're supporting her. I'm a Republican U.S. senator supporting the Democratic Speaker of the House because I don't believe that the Communist Party leadership should be able to dictate to American elected officials where the heck we can travel. So, we're closing ranks behind the Speaker."
Sullivan joined a group of senators in an extensive statement lending support to Pelosi.
“For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan,” a group of 25 GOP senators agreed in the statement. “This travel is consistent with the United States' One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Sullivan remembered that in 2021, the Chinese state media published days of editorials attacking him.
"They're always bombastic," he said. "I guess the Chinese Communist Party put out this video yesterday showing things exploding. You know, my view is that America should be like Teddy Roosevelt, which is 'walk softly and carry a bigass stick.' And right now that stick is called the USS Abraham Lincoln, that strike group is in the region and they know it."
Pelosi said Tuesday upon arrival in Taiwan that her controversial visit demonstrated Washington's strong commitment to the self-ruled island, which China views as part of its territory.
"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, the highest-ranked elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said her trip "in no way" contradicted official US policy, which recognizes "one China" and has not officially recognized Taiwan as an independent state.
However, she said, "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."
"The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo," she added, in a reference to Beijing's pressure on Taipei to rejoin the mainland.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who wasn't a signer of the statement, complained to reporters that the White House wasn't willing to defend Pelosi and defend her trip more powerfully.
Fox network host Tucker Carlson spent part of his Monday night show attacking Pelosi for the trip, calling her "World War Nancy."
With additional reporting by Matt Laslo and AFP