CHINA has vowed to surround the island of Taiwan as part of a “targeted military operations” in response to a controversial visit to the country by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
State-affiliated media in China has quoted the country’s Ministry of National Defence as saying the People’s Liberation Army will be countering Pelosi‘s visit to Taiwan in a bid to “defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
These operations will include live fire drills and “war games” around the coast of the island, which China claims is a breakaway province.
On Tuesday, China announced a series of life-fire exercises surrounding Taiwan between Thursday and Sunday.
Commercial ships and flights have been warned to avoid these areas during these times.
China has vowed to “fight to the death” over Taiwan, amid the deployment of warships, tanks and fighter planes to its southeast coast just 100 miles from the island.
As the veteran politician’s plane entered Taiwanese airspace, local publication SETN reported that two Chinese jets had been scrambled to follow it, entering Taiwan’s airspace southwest of the country, minutes before her arrival.
Pelosi is set to meet Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday morning.
Her visit hasn’t been greeted with universal acclaim in Taiwan, however, with a small counter-protest there to greet her at the airport.
One protester held up a banner reading “American get out”.
China has summoned the US ambassador, in a furious response, accusing Pelosi of “playing with fire” and saying the US “must pay the price for its mistake”.
The country’s Foreign Ministry said: “The United States, for its part, has been attempting to use Taiwan to contain China.
“It constantly distorts, obscures and hollows out the ‘One China’ principle, steps up its official exchanges with Taiwan and emboldens ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities.
“These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
The statement also called Taiwan an “inalienable part of China’s territory,” as reported by Channel News Asia.
Those who play with fire will perish by it
China’s Foreign Ministry
It follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s phone call to Joe Biden last week warning that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt” in reference to Taiwan.
Speaking after she touched down, Pelosi denied that her visit “contradicts” the longstanding US policy on Taiwan.
“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” she said. “Our discussions with Taiwan leadership reaffirm our support for our partner & promote our shared interests, including advancing a free & open Indo-Pacific region.”
In response, the US Navy has deployed four warships east of Taiwan, while Chinese vessels and planes have moved close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Surreal footage shows the bizarre moment a column of Chinese tanks make their way along a packed tourist beach on the opposite coast from Taiwan.
The ramped-up rhetoric has sparked fears of bigger warplane incursions by China into Taiwan’s territory.
Last October, a record 56 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, coinciding with nearby US-led military exercises.
China could potentially keep up this level of aerial war games for days if not weeks, stretching Taiwan’s smaller airforce as it seeks to drive away planes.
Beijing will have to respond militarily “in a way that’s a clear escalation from previous shows of force,” Amanda Hsiao from Taiwan-based Crisis Group told MSN.
Rumours are also flying of a possible missile test close to Taiwan as an act of provocation.
In the most recent military drill in the South China Sea in August 2020, the People’s Liberation Army launched “carrier-killer” ballistic missiles in apparent response to US naval exercises.
China could also impose economic pain on Taiwan, as the island nation’s largest trading partner.
On Monday, Taipei had a glimpse of this after Beijing banned food imports from more than 100 Taiwanese suppliers.
China has also hit various Taiwanese leaders with sanctions, including bans on travelling to the mainland.
If China disrupts shipping in the Taiwan Strait, a key global trade route, this could harm its own economy.