To commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and to show Washington’s staunch support for Taiwan, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi had planned to visit Taiwan on April 10, but she postponed her trip to Asia after testing positive for COVID-19. Taiwanese authorities sent their sincere regards to Pelosi upon hearing the news.
If Pelosi can still visit upon her recovery, Taiwanese would no doubt be charmed by her avid support for the nation after meeting this “feisty grandma” firsthand.
In 2019, when the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office held a reception on Capitol Hill in Washington to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TRA — a milestone bill in the relationship between Taiwan and the US — I was the host that evening.
Several political heavyweights attended the event, including then-US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman James Risch and then-US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel, along with more than 40 US Congress members, both Republicans and Democrats.
The Mike Mansfield Room — a historic chamber named in honor of the former Senate majority leader — was filled to capacity with the arrival of dozens of senior officials from the White House, the National Security Council and the US Department of State, while reporters and congressional staff members also packed themselves into the room.
The guest of honor was Lester Wolff — who had just celebrated his 100th birthday — a key author of the TRA and a former chairman of the US House Asian and Pacific Affairs Committee.
Soon after the party began, a guest was giving his remarks when there was a sudden commotion at the back of the room. An unannounced guest had arrived, and amid clamors of surprise, guests were struggling to make way for her entry into the jam-packed chamber.
Dressed in a stylish white suit, a beaming Pelosi fluttered onto the stage with a few flourishing steps and a suave manner.
She first apologized for interrupting the party, but emphasized that as a great fan of Taiwan, she insisted on making an appearance, no matter how tight her schedule.
After concluding her remarks, she pulled me to her and said: “Dear Stanley, as long as Taiwan keeps on defending its freedom, democracy, security and resilience, you will always have our unmistakable and unshakeable bipartisan support.”
Fervent and powerful, her speech moved the guests, who gave her a round of applause. Giving everyone a radiant smile and a wave, Pelosi then departed in a gust of wind.
Her unexpected appearance became the highlight of the evening.
Under US law, if the president is incapacitated, the powers and duties of the presidency pass to the vice president, and then to the speaker of the House.
While transiting through the US, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has spoken with Pelosi by telephone a number of times. When Tsai was re-elected in 2020, Pelosi took the opportunity to issue a statement congratulating Tsai on behalf of the US Congress.
Two weeks later, she also welcomed Vice President William Lai (賴清德) to the House Speaker’s office when he attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, reiterating the US’ friendship and commitment to Taiwan.
Pelosi is undoubtedly Taiwan’s greatest fan. Confronted with the changing tides of international relations, Taiwan’s door is always open for Pelosi. Her visit would prove the truth of the mottos: “Help comes to those who help themselves,” and “Virtue is never left to stand alone — he who has it will have neighbors.”
Stanley Kao served as Taiwan’s representative to the US from 2016 to 2020.
Translated by Rita Wang
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