Pelosi has landed in Taiwan. Here's why that's a big deal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., landed in Taiwan late Tuesday evening local time,

and she is expected to meet members of Taiwan's legislature and President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday,

according to a source familiar with planning for her visit.

The highly-anticipated stop has faced stark warnings from China,

in turn worrying the White House that it could trigger a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and worsen already tense U.S.-China relations.

China sent two Su-35 fighter jets across the Taiwan strait ahead of Pelosi's arrival,

according to state broadcaster CCTV, and the spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry said on Twitter,

"The US & Taiwan have made provocations together first, whereas China has been compelled to act in self-defense."

The visit was not announced in advance, and it comes as part of Pelosi's tour of Asia,

including Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea, where she has been leading a small congressional delegation.

She is the highest-ranking elected American official to visit Taiwan since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

The source familiar with planning for Pelosi's visit says she will be given an award by Taiwan's president and visit a museum before departing on Wednesday.

The island democracy governs itself, but China claims it as its territory.

 Rumors of Pelosi's visit launched a geopolitical firestorm amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.

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