Tokyo – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Gregory Meeks, Chairman Mark Takano, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Andy Kim held a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on the Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region. Below is a full transcript:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning everyone. May I begin by thanking our distinguished Ambassador Rahm Emanuel and his staff for facilitating a wonderful visit, a productive visit to Japan.
As Speaker, it is my honor to lead this distinguished Congressional delegation here to Japan as a cornerstone ally and our ally – our good friend in this very important region. This distinguished delegation followed the lead of our great President, President Biden, who made a tremendous focus on the Asian Pacific as very important in many areas in terms of security, in terms of economics and in terms of governance. This trip is to follow through with that and establish Congress’ role in it, in addition to listening and learning from our colleagues – our, excuse me, our allies. I want to say allies – our friends in the area.
The President’s initiative, in terms of economics, et cetera, is well known. And to that end, we visited Singapore, met with the Prime Minister, met with the President, a woman that was pretty exciting for us. But most importantly, to discuss security, economics and governance – to listen, to learn, to share views.
Next, we went to Malaysia – were very, again, in another country, welcomed in a very positive way. And I say when we were welcomed, welcoming the President’s initiative – yes, that is much of what we were representing.
Next, we went to Taiwan. Again, security, economics and governance – had very positive meetings there. And I’ll come back to that.
Next, we went to South Korea, to pay our respects to our 28,000 troops who are there and their families, to thank them for their courage and thank the government for their hospitality. We visited Panmunjom – again, focused a great deal on the threat of North Korea in terms of their aggression, to possible aggression.
And now, we’re in Japan. This morning we had a very impressive meeting. Impressive from our standpoint, of the new Prime Minister – congratulating him on his successes already in terms of security, economy and governance.
You may be more interested in, again, what the Chinese did while we were traveling. And we said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia and the status quo in Taiwan. It’s about, again, the Taiwan Relations Act, U.S.-China policy, all of the pieces of legislation and agreements that have established what our relationship is. To have peace in the Taiwan Straits and to have the status quo prevail.
To that end, as you see, the Chinese made their strikes, probably using our visit as an excuse. Let me close by saying this: the Chinese have tried to isolate Taiwan, keeping them, most recently, from World Health Organization by not even letting their participation be on the agenda of the world health agency – wherever that makes these determinations. They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there.
We’ve had high-level visits: Senators in the spring in a bipartisan way, continuing visits, and we will not allow them to isolate Taiwan. They are not doing our travel schedule. The Chinese government is not doing that. Our friendship with Taiwan is a strong one. It is bipartisan in the House and the Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.
With that, I want to just say how honored I was to travel with our delegation. We are more like six co-Chairs of the delegation. We’re coming to Asia – one of our Members, born in India. Another, his parents were – that would be Mr. Raja Krishnamoorthi. Another Member whose parents were born in South Korea, another who is Japanese-American and proudly so. All of us, all of us representing the beautiful diversity of Asia in our, in our states, and in my case, in my district.
When it came to security, you’ll hear from our Members. Economy – we have the Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to talk about that and trade, possibly a
continuation of our discussions about a trade agreement in the region. But you’ll hear directly from them.
And I thank you for your interest in our trip. It’s about, again, security. We never can leave – lead, or ever have, a CODEL unless we talk first and foremost about honoring our oath to protect and defend security first, economics tied in with that, as well as governance. In all cases, each of the countries we visited, we had very positive conversations and great respect for what they are doing in their countries, great candor in how we thought each of us could do better in our countries. And we were very honored to be received so well in the region.
With that, I want to yield to the Distinguished Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, a champion for security, economics, governance, trade: Mr. Chairman Gregory Meeks.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, my colleagues.
The – I can’t help but thinking about how Mr. Krishnamoorthi took credit for the distinguished Ambassador that we have and then closed his remarks by saying Japan has more invest – he has more investment in your district than any other district. Do you think those two things are related? I don’t know.
But we are very proud of our Ambassador. He brings to this all the values of our country, a vision of prosperity for all.
So, when we talk about security, and as Mr. Takano mentioned, I was present at President Kennedy’s inauguration. I was a student. Most of you weren’t even born, but you’ve read about it in the history books. But the important point that he made is all working together. So this trip is for us to show our respect to these countries, to listen about how we can do the best possible job and for the future.
I’ll just close by saying, one of the most thrilling meetings we had were with young people. And they have, they – they know they own the future. They know it’s theirs, and they do own it from the standpoint of freedom and from the standpoint of climate and standpoint of respect for all people. So that was exciting, because that is our agenda – is always For The Children, for the future. And again, coming here with respect, listening, learning, sharing our thoughts, honoring the commitment of our President to focus on the Asian-Pacific.
Q. Thank you so much for your time, Speaker Pelosi. I just wanted to bring you back to Taiwan. So some have speculated that your trip to Taiwan was more about furnishing your own legacy than actually benefiting Taiwan, which has been left to bear the brunt of China’s ire. What would you say to that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it’s a ridiculous question. I mean, not your question, but the contention you have. Taiwan is one of the freest countries in the world. Don’t take it from me. That’s how Freedom House describes them. Their democracy, which was hard in the making – it doesn’t start out with a free and open democracy. They had to develop it. And that was an excellent, real achievement. Their economy is flourishing. We have, we have seen the success of their semiconductor businesses and the rest. And we learned from their business people about how they develop that success and how we can work together to spread prosperity.
And then in governance, again, LGBTQ, all kinds of issues. We met with community members and heard their views about it. So this isn’t about me. It’s about them. It’s about Taiwan. And I am proud to have worked over the years to showcase the concerns we have with mainland China relating to trade and their violations of our trade agreements, proliferation of weapons and delivery systems that are harmful to global security, as well as a – human rights. But this is about saying, ‘Let’s celebrate Taiwan for what it is: a great democracy with a thriving economy, with respect for all of its people.’
Staff. Thank you. Let’s get a question from this side of the room.
Speaker Pelosi. I’m glad to see women asking the questions.
Q. Good morning. My name is Jackie. I have a question for the Speaker about China and the reaction of China. The military drill since yesterday: do you think how they think this visit will affect the U.S.-China relationship?
Speaker Pelosi. Could you repeat that?
The visit? Well, our President – we are the House of Representatives, the Congress of the United States. And much of legislation, whether it’s trade or appropriations and the rest, begins in the House of Representatives. And so we are one part of this. Our President has his communication with the President of China, and again, this is – we are two big countries. We have to have communication among us.
But when I was a little girl, I was told when at the beach that if I dug a hole deep enough, we would reach China – so we’ve always felt a connection there. But the fact is, I have said it again and again: if we do not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out about human rights any place in the world. We’re trying to find our common ground. China has some contradictions, some progress in terms of lifting people up, some horrible things happening in terms of the Uyghurs. In fact, it’s been labeled a genocide.
So, again, we have – we must work with China on issues that relate to the climate crisis, being two of the biggest emitters, and we can learn a lot from China in that regard. But we also have to work together for some decisions.
And so, again, it isn’t about our visit, determining what the U.S.-China relationship is. It’s a much bigger and longer-term challenge, and one that, again, we have to recognize that we have to work together in certain areas.
Speaker Pelosi. Any colleagues want to comment?
Chairman Meeks. Let me also just say briefly, that anytime that the Chinese Ambassador has asked to meet with me, as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve always been willing to meet. That will continue. That will not change. What also will not change is, when we meet, I will talk honestly. I will talk and bring up the issues of which we need to talk through to the work together. But I’ll also talk about those things that are problematic for me and our country.
So, it’s not going to change how we in Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, how we deal with China. It’s going to continue. We’ve done nothing different than what we’ve been doing previously. And we will continue to do the same.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just add that in the House and in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly support the status quo in Taiwan: 25 Senators, Republican Senators, signed a letter supporting our visit and there is legislation in both Houses in support of that.
So this isn’t about my agenda or what do I think. This is about how we have candor in our relationships.
I think we have time for one more? Is that –
Q. Thank you. Again, about Taiwan. Did Mr. Prime Minister Kishida, did he – what did he say about your visit to Taiwan? Was he supportive? Was he positive about it? Or he wasn’t too happy about it?
Speaker Pelosi. I would not ever divulge anything that happens in a conversation with our President or China’s – or excuse me – or the Prime Minister of Japan. But let me say that we had a very positive meeting about our friendship. This is our best friend, in the most important region in our globe. And again, we listened with respect to what he had to say. We shared our views.
And I don’t want the Taiwan visit to deflect attention from what really our purpose was. We planned this a long time ago, and couldn’t go one point because of COVID. And then a high-powered Senate delegation came. I don’t know what the Chinese said about that. But nonetheless, we want the attention to be on the fact that what our President put forth is something that we all respect and admire in Congress, and that we want to do – proceed in a way that has the fullest participation and intellectual resources of the countries that are affected. Many of them have friends on both sides of China and the United States. We didn’t ask them to make any choices. We just wanted to be able to work together with them.
Speaker Pelosi. Any comments from any of my colleagues? No? Okay.
Well, thank you all very much. Thank you so much.
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