House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faced backlash online Tuesday after she said during an NBC News interview that communist China was “one of the freest societies in the world.”
Pelosi’s remarks come after she visited Taiwan last week, which triggered days of intense Chinese military drills that encircled the island.
“We still support the One China policy. We go there to acknowledge the status quo is what our policy is. There was nothing disruptive about that,” Pelosi said. “It was only about saying China is one of the freest societies in the world.”
Donald Trump Jr. responded to the clip by writing on Twitter, “Pelosi thinks that the Communist Dictatorship in China is ‘one of the freest societies in the world,’ which may explain why the Democrats are now emulating the same authoritarian tactics here at home, that the Chinese Communist Party uses against their political opposition!”
“Unbelievable,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded. “Scary. Idiotic.”
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Rebeccah Heinrichs responded, “Very embarrassing. She had to have meant Taiwan— all the difference in the world.”
“China is currently locking religious minorities in mass internment camps and committing genocide against them,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) responded. “But Speaker Pelosi believes they are one of the freest societies in the world? This is #CCP propaganda.”
Former Trump White House adviser Steven Cheung responded, “Disturbing to see anyone, let alone an elected official, repeat Chinese Communist Party talking points. It’s almost like she is compromised.”
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, responded to the clip by saying that she misspoke and she meant to say, “Taiwan.”
“The Speaker is referencing Taiwan,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Speaker’s record of speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party for 35 years in the Congress is unsurpassed.”
Pelosi’s visit to the island last week came despite threats from Chinese government and military officials, including a Chinese propagandist at a state-run news organization who effectively threatened that China could shoot down Pelosi’s plane.
The Washington Post published an op-ed from Pelosi shortly after she landed on the island that explained her reason for going.
Pelosi noted that under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. vowed to support defending Taiwan, and that the act said that the U.S. would “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”
“Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience,” Pelosi wrote. “In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is ‘likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.’”
“The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC,” Pelosi added. “In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.”