US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday, starting a visit that Beijing had warned her against taking, saying it would undermine Sino-US relations.
Live television images showed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who flew 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," Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing.
"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."
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own, and a foreign ministry spokesman said earlier this week that any visit by Pelosi would be "a gross interference in China's internal affairs" and warned that "the Chinese People's Liberation Army will never sit idly by".
Pelosi was on a tour of Asia that includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)