China 'to some extent' brought on Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit itself, NZ international relations expert says

China, to some extent, has brought on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan itself, an international relations expert says.

Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday (local time) despite threats from China about visiting the territory it claims as its own. 

"Our congressional delegation's visit to Taiwan honours America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy," Pelosi 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." 

International relations expert Robert Patman, from the University of Otago, said the visit would raise China's temperature.

"The reason the Chinese are particularly infuriated, of course, is that Nancy Pelosi has been a long-term critic of China's policies; whether that be Hong Kong or internally in relation to Uighurs, and has been a strong supporter of Taiwan," Prof Patman told AM. 

"There's a bit of history there in [the] backdrop and I think Nancy Pelosi, for her part, feels that we are at a crucial juncture in history and, while the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it does have a long-standing relationship and in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it may be time for democracy to show its solidarity with a democracy led by someone like Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan."

Pelosi's visit encapsulated the US' "strategically ambiguous" China policy, Prof Patman said.

"Under American law, it's committed to defending Taiwan's democracy if it's attacked," said Prof Patman, referring to comments by US President Joe Biden in May that he would be willing to use force to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. 

Footage has since emerged of the Chinese military conducting "live-fire exercises" near Taiwan before Pelosi's visit. Prof Patman said China was trying to make a point. 

But Prof Patman added China brought Pelosi's visit on itself, to a degree, given its stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. China has refused to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine or call them an invasion.

While Beijing and Russia gave different accounts of a phone call between China President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, the Kremlin claimed that Xi noted the "legitimacy of Russia's actions in protecting its fundamental national interests in the face of security challenges created by external forces". 

"To some extent, China has brought this on itself by saying that Mr Putin's invasion of Ukraine was a legitimate security measure," Prof Patman said. "That was an outrageous statement and raised issues and fears within America that Taiwan could be next in the crosshairs."

China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned on Tuesday, ahead of Pelosi's arrival, "if the US continues down the wrong path, we will take strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security interests". 

Chunying expressed China's "firm opposition" to Pelosi's Taiwan visit, saying China hoped the US knew "about the importance and sensitivity of this issue and the potential danger in the event of this visit".