The Chinese military conducted live fire drills off the coast opposite Taiwan on Saturday, amid reports that US Chairman Nancy Pelosi is in the air en route to the region.
The powder keg situation comes as China indicated it could shoot down Pelosi’s plane if she tries to land on the disputed island democracy, which Beijing says is part of its territory.
Pelosi was said to have left late Friday for her upcoming Asian tour, which may or may not include a visit to Taiwan, something Pelosi warned the US would “bear all the consequences.”
The chairman has so far refused to confirm the layover, but if it goes through, it could spark the biggest crisis in the Taiwan Strait in nearly 40 years.
Beijing has reacted furiously to the upcoming visit of the number three in line from the US government to Taiwan. Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned President Joe Biden on Thursday that “those who play with fire will die.”
“Hopefully the US is clairvoyant about this.”
The People’s Liberation Army conducted “live-fire exercises” near the Pingtan Islands off Fujian province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The Maritime Safety Administration warned ships to avoid the area.
U.S. Chairman Nancy Pelosi is said to be in the air en route to the Asia-Pacific region for Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia’s takeoff in August, amid threats from China to shoot her if she visits the island of Taiwan.
Two ships identified as a Chinese Type 052D destroyer and a Type 054A frigate were seen 27 km and 23 km off the Taiwan Strait. Both are armed with surface-to-air missiles (file photos)
Xi warned Biden, according to Chinese state media, “Whoever plays with fire will only burn himself. I hope the American side can see this clearly’
President Joe Biden posted an image to his Twitter on Thursday morning of a two-hour conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping — the fifth between the two since Biden took office.
Such exercises usually involve artillery. The one-sentence announcement gave no indication as to whether Saturday’s exercise could also include missiles, combat aircraft or other weapons.
Two other ships — identified by Vietnam-based maritime observer Duan Dang as a Chinese Type 052D destroyer and a Type 054A frigate — were spotted 27 km and 23 km off the Taiwan Strait. Both are armed with surface-to-air missiles.
Meanwhile, the Chinese navy conducted military exercises off the south coast near Guangdong, following exercises in nearby Hainan province.
It is all seen as a show of force to prevent Pelosi from visiting the island. As the leader of the equivalent legislative branch of the US government, Joe Biden has no authority to order her to stop the visit.
Biden said last week that the Pentagon thought a trip to Taiwan was “not a good idea.”
“Well, I don’t think the military thinks it’s a good idea at this point,” Biden said in response to a question about Pelosi’s reported trip. “But I don’t know what its status is.”
China has stepped up the rhetoric as the crisis reaches boiling point, as the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times crows: ‘Don’t say we didn’t warn you!’
It’s an expression China apparently used before fighting India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979.
And a commentator with Beijing spokesman for the Global Times, Hu Xijn, called American fighter jets escorting Pelosi’s plane to Taiwan an “invasion.”
“The PLA has the right to forcibly dislodge Pelosi’s plane and US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and tactically moving obstacles. If they aren’t effective, shoot them,” he wrote on Twitter.
The visit, which a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee appeared to have confirmed will go ahead, will be the first visit by such a high-ranking US elected official in 25 years.
Pictured: Taiwanese Navy launches a US-made standard missile from a frigate during the annual Han Kuang Drill, offshore near Suao Naval Port in Yilan Province on July 2
China says Taiwan has no right to maintain foreign relations. It sees visits by US officials as an encouragement for the island to make its decades-old de facto independence official.
The PLA has flown a growing number of fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan and has fired missiles at shipping lanes to the island in the past.
In a phone call on Thursday between the leaders of the two superpowers, the Chinese prime minister said he strongly opposes Taiwan’s independence and interference from outside forces.
Biden indicated that the US stance on the issue has not changed, according to a reading from the meeting.
On Taiwan, President Biden underlined that United States policies have not changed and the United States strongly opposes unilateral attempts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. according to the reading.
“If she goes, there will certainly be a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, and it will certainly surpass the last in 1995-1996,” Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the newspaper. Financial times.
“That’s because China’s military capabilities far exceed those of 26 years ago.”
Still, most analysts believe China would like to avoid open military conflict with the US, which has military bases scattered across the region and the USS Ronald Reagan carrier group in the South China Sea.
Despite this reluctance, the PLA has increasingly flown fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan and in the past fired missiles at shipping lanes to the island.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland.
The two governments say they are one country, but disagree on which country is entitled to national leadership. They have no official relationships, but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment.