TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is expected to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, as several Chinese fighter jets fly near the line of demarcation that divides the Taiwan Strait, people said. Reuters.
China has repeatedly warned against Pelosi visiting Taiwan, which it claims is its own, while the United States said on Monday it would not be intimidated by China’s “sabre rattling.”
Apart from Chinese planes flying close to the strait’s median line, several Chinese warships have sailed close to the unofficial dividing line since Monday, the source told Reuters. The source said both Chinese warships and aircraft “pressed” the line of demarcation on Tuesday morning, which the person described as “very provocative”.
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On Tuesday morning, while Taiwanese planes were on alert nearby, the Chinese aircraft repeatedly made tactical maneuvers, briefly “touching” the median line and returning to the other side of the strait, the person said.
Chinese planes left the area in the afternoon, but the ships remained, the person said.
Planes from both sides usually do not cross the median line.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it would fully suspend military operations near Taiwan and deploy forces appropriately in response to “enemy threats.”
China’s defense and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In Xiamen, a southeastern Chinese city across from Taiwan that has a large military presence, residents reported seeing armored vehicles on Tuesday and posted images online that Reuters could not immediately verify.
Chinese social media buzzed with trepidation about both potential conflict and patriotic fervor, and the topic of Pelosi’s visit was the top-trending item on Twitter-like Weibo.
Most of Pelosi’s scheduled meetings, including with President Tsai Ing-wen, are scheduled for Wednesday, a person familiar with her itinerary said.
Pelosi plans to meet Wednesday afternoon with a group of activists speaking out about human rights in China, four sources said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Pelosi visited Malaysia and began her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday. His office said he would also visit South Korea and Japan, but made no mention of a trip to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans.
China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“In the face of the United States’ reckless disregard for China’s persistent and aggressive representations, any countermeasures taken by the Chinese side would be reasonable and necessary, which is the right of any independent and sovereign country,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing in Beijing.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that Beijing’s responses could include firing missiles near Taiwan, large-scale air or naval operations, or China’s assertion that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway. Monday.
“We don’t take bait or engage in sword fights. At the same time, we don’t get intimidated,” Kirby said.
China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by Beijing, as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
The visit by Pelosi, the second-in-command of the US presidency and a long-time critic of China, comes amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing.
The White House has dismissed China’s rhetoric as baseless and irrelevant.
Kirby said nothing about Pelosi’s potential trip would change US policy on Taiwan, and Beijing was well aware that the devolution of powers within the US government meant Pelosi would make her own decisions.
“The speaker has the right to go to Taiwan,” he said at a White House briefing.
During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden that Washington must adhere to the One China policy and that “those who play with fire will perish”.
Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait or change the status quo.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future.
People in Taiwan, caught in the middle of Sino-US tensions, expressed mixed feelings about Pelosi’s visit.
“As for China’s statements or hateful comments, this is actually always the case. So, we look at it with peace of mind and are not too afraid,” said Yang Ching-ruel, a 22-year-old university student. I hope this trip will strengthen the ties between Taiwan and the United States.
Fellow student Chang Yun-Fan, 22, had few expectations.
“Ultimately we are a chess piece in someone else’s game,” he said.
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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; Additional reporting by Fabian Hamacher in Taipei and Yu Lun Tian in Beijing; Written by Tony Munro; Editing by Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore
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