Several hundred thousand people followed US Air Force flight SPAR19 on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan.
Media footage captured Pelosi stepping off the world’s most watched plane in Taipei, Taiwan – where it was on Tuesday night. Pelosi became the highest-ranking US official to visit the Chinese-claimed self-governing island in 25 years.
Global flight-tracking service Flightradar24, which provides real-time information on thousands of planes around the world, told MarketWatch that the flight with call sign SPAR19 – which was believed to be carrying Pelosi – attracted record looks since leaving the United States. the weekend.
Trackers glued to the service included China’s state-run publication Global Times. “According to Flightradar24, a Boeing C-40C with call sign SPAR19 took off from Paya Lebar Air Base this morning,” the Global Times wrote at one point, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“As soon as the flight became active [Tuesday], it was the most watched flight in our service,” Ian Petchenik, director of communications for Flightradar24, told MarketWatch. “And then pass Manila [capital of the Phillippines]it became the most watched live flight of all time.
And just before the flight landed in Taipei, Taiwan, Petchenik said more than 700,000 people were watching. “It’s as busy as it gets,” he added.
Interest in Pelosi’s flight was so great that it strained Flightradar24’s servers, leading it to set up a virtual ‘waiting room’ for people trying to access the tracking service. .
Previously, Flightradar24’s most-watched flight was Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s commercial jet flight to Russia after recovering from an alleged poisoning attempt.
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has infuriated China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force, if necessary. China has warned of retaliation if Pelosi visits, saying its military will “never sit idly by”.
Opinion: Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan will end an era of ambiguity
“The United States and Taiwan agreed to make provocations first, and China was only forced to act out of self-defense,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters on Tuesday. Hua Chunying in Beijing.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.