Dhe “speaker” of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, arrived in the Taiwanese capital on Tuesday. Your plane landed in the evening (local time) in the capital Taipei. It is the highest-ranking US visit to Taiwan in 25 years, which Beijing leaders see as part of the People’s Republic of China. With her trip, Pelosi ignored warnings from Beijing – she had kept her exact travel plan secret until the end.
After arriving in the Taiwanese capital, the 82-year-old politician wrote on Twitter, “America’s solidarity with the 23 million Taiwanese is more important than ever today as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” Her visit does not conflict with America’s long-established policy on Taiwan.
“Whoever plays with fire will die in it”
China accused the government in Washington of “playing with fire” after Pelosi’s landing. The US actions in Taiwan are “extremely dangerous,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Whoever plays with fire will perish,” the ministry said.
Cross-party Taiwanese parliamentarians welcomed Pelosi. Kuomintang opposition MP Chen Yi-hsin expressed hope that Beijing would not “overreact”. Pelosi represents Congress and the people of the United States, but not American President Joe Biden, he told CNA. Her visit does not represent a change in the US’ one-China policy, which recognizes Beijing as China’s only legitimate government. Pelosi’s meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the Financial Times newspaper.
A few hours before the American politician arrived in Taipei, China had stepped up its military activities in the Taiwan Strait. According to the Reuters news agency, several Chinese military planes flew very close to the unofficial median line that bisects the Taiwan Strait as a kind of buffer on Tuesday. The agency quoted an unidentified source as describing the Chinese crackdown as “very provocative.” The planes “touched” the center line several times during tactical maneuvers.
Taiwan’s military increases combat readiness
While China has described the centerline as “nonexistent,” its military did not purposefully fly over it for twenty years as of 2019, and still rarely does. The “Financial Times” reported that units of the Chinese military’s East Regional Command had been put on increased operational readiness. The newspaper referred to defense politicians from countries neighboring China.
The Taiwanese military, meanwhile, increased its combat readiness. The CNA news agency reported, citing a source, that the order came in response to the threat posed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and its manoeuvres. The increased readiness was ordered until Thursday noon. However, the two-stage alarm system is not yet a classification for the “emergency”, but continues to be a “normal operational readiness”.
Previously, the American government had publicly stated for the first time what military action it expects Beijing to take in response to Pelosi’s visit. The spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington, John Kirby, had mentioned the crossing of the center line by military planes and ships as well as the firing of rockets in the Taiwan Straits. Washington also expects high-profile military exercises.