Word of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s summer travel plans, including a potential stop to meet with government leaders in Taiwan, enraged Chinese government officials and local activists alike Monday.
Roughly 100 anti-war activists and Chinese Americans gathered in the morning outside of the San Francisco Federal Building to protest Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan, saying it will unnecessarily inflame tensions with China and lead to military provocations that could end in nuclear war.
The issue of Taiwan’s independence is considered one of the most volatile in U.S.-China relations, as the latter insists the island remains part of the sovereign state under the “One China” policy—a position the U.S. has long acknowledged but not endorsed. Taiwan was a critical part of a conversation last week between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping.
As of Monday afternoon, Pelosi was expected to visit Taiwan but it had not been confirmed. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Many of Monday’s protesters, including members of the pro-diplomacy group Pivot to Peace and the women’s social justice organization CODEPINK, said the trip is yet another example of the congresswoman’s failure to prioritize issues in her own district, such as housing, homelessness and climate change.
Cynthia Papermaster, a CODEPINK chapter coordinator, took exception to Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan, as well as the lack of leadership from top Democrats as a war between Russia and Ukraine continues to rage, climate change legislation languishes and the Supreme Court curtails reproductive rights by overturning Roe v. Wade.
“What leadership?” Papermaster asked. “I mean, she’s made fun of Trump on our behalf. That was wonderful, very comic and everything. But people really need her to focus on our needs here.”
Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and national staff member for CODEPINK, said she she has been alarmed by the Rim of the Pacific war games being organized near Hawaii and Southern California, where 26 nations have been taking part in a biennial exercise that was expected to include 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 military members.
“They are gaming against a potential enemy,” Wright said, “and guess who they think that enemy is? China.”
Julie Tang, a retired judge who served on the bench of San Francisco Superior Court for more than two decades, said Pelosi is supporting the military industrial complex and “raising the temperature for war.”
“We have donated to her, we’ve supported her throughout these years, but we are so disappointed that what she’s doing is totally against the welfare and the well-being of the community—in particular Chinese Americans,” Tang said. “She does not listen to us. She’s going with the flow, going with pushing U.S. hegemony to contain China. For what? We don’t get anything out of it.”
A small contingent of counter-protesters on Monday shouted at the larger group through their own megaphone, accusing the larger protest of supporting China’s communist government.
Josh Koehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org