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Pelosi’s Taiwan trip a culmination of decades of challenging China

Rep. Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan marks the culmination of a 35-year career spent as an outspoken critic of China. Pelosi famously visited the square in 1991 where she held a banner reading “To those who died for democracy in China’s Tiananmen Square” Pelosi was undeterred by Chinese officials’ anger moments after the protest. “She was very tough. People have always, in my view, underestimated her, especially in those early years,” a former AFL-CIO official said. Pelosi's visit to Taiwan came in the face of threats from Beijing, as well as pushback within her own party, and her visit is a significant signal of American foreign policy from the politician second in line to the presidency.

Pelosi shepherded legislation that created a pathway to citizenship for Chinese students fleeing political persecution. She pushed for the creation of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China to conduct appropriate oversight. Pelosi didn’t reserve her criticism for China, including President George H.W. Bush, who vetoed a bill tying China’s “Most Favored Nation” status to producing evidence that it had improved on human rights. In 1995, she spoke daily with Fiedler as he led negotiations to free Chinese dissident Harry Wu from detention. She also pushed for legislation that called for withdrawing the United States from the WTO if China were accepted without full U.S. support. Pelosi predicted in 1999 that the Clinton administration agreed on terms to allow China into the

Pelosi has opposed China's pursuit of the Olympics for the past 20 years. She was the most high-profile U.S. official to call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Pelosi has often made clear, including in this year’s hearing, that her objections are not directed at the Chinese people, but toward their “repressive” government. Critics say her trip is merely for show, a capstone to a political career coming to an end, but many who have watched her dedication to the issue for decades think otherwise. The trip comes just days after Congress passed legislation that would subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing and invest billions in science and technology innovation.