U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday during a visit to the island that has drawn Beijing's ire.
Pelosi also visited the Taiwan parliament during the trip, which made her the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years.
Beijing views the self-governing island as a breakaway territory that will one day be reunited with the mainland and warned the U.S. against allowing Pelosi to visit.
In response to her arrival late Tuesday, China launched military exercises in six areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan. They are expected to include long-range live-fire exercises and continue through Sunday.
The maneuvers are seen as the biggest show of military muscle from Beijing since the 1995 Taiwan Strait crisis, when China fired missiles over Taiwan and the U.S. dispatched two aircraft carrier groups.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, early Wednesday to protest Pelosi's visit as a "serious provocation and violation" of the one-China principle, state newspaper Global Times reported.
China also sent 21 planes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Tuesday alone, the Defense Ministry in Taipei said. Taiwan, which has 23 million inhabitants, has long considered itself independent.
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Pelosi and her delegation arrived in Taipei a day earlier, and were greeted by Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, the top U.S. representative in Taiwan.
"Our congressional delegation's visit to Taiwan honors America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy," Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing. "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."
Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and a long-time critic of Beijing, is on a tour of Asia that includes announced visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Her stop in Taiwan had not been announced but had been widely anticipated.