House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called China “one of the freest societies in the world” just days after Chinese officials threatened to retaliate against her visit to Taiwan. Her claim may have been a gaffe, but she did not correct herself or issue a statement to correct the record.
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During an interview with NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday morning, Pelosi justified her visit to Taiwan despite the resulting increased tensions with China.
“A woman president of Taiwan, we are so proud of her,” Pelosi said. “We want to support her courage and every place I went, we were invited to go.”
“Why don’t we just show China that we support Taiwan,” Pelosi continued. “It is part of the U.S.-Taiwan Relations Act. I didn’t — we didn’t go there to change our policy. There is nothing disruptive about that. It was only about saying China is one of the freest societies in the world. Don’t take it from me, that’s the Freedom House. It’s a strong democracy, courageous people.”
Freedom House is a U.S. government-funded organization that researches and scores the freedom and democratic norms of countries around the world. According to the organization, Taiwan is one of the freest countries with a score of 94/100. China, by contrast, has a dramatically lower score of 9/100.
Pelosi did not make any clarification to her comment about China being a highly free society.
Pelosi’s comment about China caught added attention in the days after Chinese officials called her visit to Taiwan a violation of Chinese sovereignty. While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory.
Around the time Pelosi arrived in Taiwan last week, China’s military announced a series of live-fire drills that would surround the island from all sides for several days with military shows of force.
A Republican Party YouTube channel shared a clip of the confusing portion of the Democrat Speaker’s interview on Tuesday.
Despite the confusing comment about Chinese freedom, Pelosi shared some more clear criticisms of the Chinese response to her Taiwan visit during another Tuesday interview. Speaking with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Pelosi attributed China’s reaction to her visit in part to Chinese leader Xi Jinping distracting from internal problems in China.
Pelosi said Xi “has his own insecurities,” and he is “in a fragile place.”
“He has problems with his economy,” she continued. “He is acting like a scared bully.”