Taiwan conducted air raid drills and mobilized its military for routine defense exercises on Monday amid China’s repeated warnings against the impending visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next month.
Pelosi is leading a delegation in August to show support for Taiwan, marking the first trip by a speaker of the US House of Representatives to the self-governing island in 25 years.
The trip, which was initially set for April, was rescheduled after Pelosi tested positive for COVID-19.
When news of the planned visit emerged, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called it a “malicious provocation.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang also immediately condemned the visit, saying that it would “severely undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, gravely impact the foundation of China-U.S. relations and send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces.”
On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden warned against the trip, citing an assessment by the American military.
“Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” he was quoted as saying.
Biden, who is set to speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping via an online meeting by the end of the month, added that he does not know the status of Pelosi’s trip.
On Sunday, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to offer to join Pelosi on her reported trip.
“Nancy, I’ll go with you. I’m banned in China, but not freedom-loving Taiwan. See you there!” Pompeo wrote.
During a press briefing on Monday, Lijian reiterated China’s position against the visit, saying they are “getting seriously prepared.”
“The Chinese side has repeatedly made clear to the US side our serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit,” Lijian told reporters.
While the U.S. has recognized the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China, it does not endorse the assertion that Taiwan is part of China.
Taiwan, which has its own set of rulers and politicians, has endured military provocations from China in recent years. In Taiwan, periodic air-raid drills are required by law as part of its preparations in the event of a Chinese attack.
The nation’s military actions on Monday also included street evacuation drills, which effectively shut towns and cities across Taiwan, including its capital Taipei, for 30 minutes.
Observers posit that Taiwan’s defensive actions, regardless of its connection to Beijing’s reaction to Pelosi’s trip, signal the possibility of an even deeper crisis in the region.
In April, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Lindsey Graham visited Taiwan and met with President Tsai Ing-wen to express their support. In response, the Chinese military sent frigates, bombers and fighter planes near the island.
Featured Image via WION