Taiwan announced the incursion of 21 Chinese military aircraft into its air defense zone on Tuesday, as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a visit to the island over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
Planes entered [Air Defence Identification Zone] in southwest Taiwan on August 2, 2022,” the country’s defense ministry said on Twitter.
Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday despite Beijing’s threats of severe repercussions, becoming the highest-ranking US official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China.
Pelosi’s visit provoked an increase in tensions between China and the United States. China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, which can be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.
China warned of “strong and decisive action” if Pelosi continues the trip. China’s Defense Ministry said late Tuesday that the country’s People’s Liberation Army was “on high alert,” adding that in response to Pelosi’s visit, it would launch a series of targeted military operations to “defend national sovereignty.” He vowed to “resolutely discourage outside interference and separatist attempts at ‘Taiwan independence’.”
The Biden administration did not directly urge Pelosi to cancel the visit, seeking to reassure Beijing that it would not mean any change in US policy towards Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue undermines its credibility in the country.”
“Some US politicians are playing with fire on the Taiwan issue,” Wang said in a statement. “This will definitely not lead to a good outcome…revealing America’s intimidating face again shows that it is the world’s biggest saboteur of the world.” “
Pelosi said in a statement immediately after her arrival that the US delegation’s visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s dynamic democracy.”
“Our visit is one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan and is in no way inconsistent with longstanding United States policy,” she said.
China, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province that can be annexed by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned of retaliation for Pelosi’s visit, saying its military “will never sit idly by.”
“The United States and Taiwan colluded to be the first to provoke, and China was forced to act only out of self-defense,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.
Hua said China was in constant communication with the US and made clear “how dangerous it would be if the visit actually took place.” Any countermeasures China takes will be “justified and necessary” in the face of Washington’s “bad faith”, she said.
Shortly after Pelosi’s arrival, a spokesman for China’s Legislative Assembly Standing Committee issued a statement saying the trip “seriously violated” the “One China Principle,” which is Beijing’s claim to have sole governments for both mainland China and Taiwan.
The White House on Monday condemned Beijing’s rhetoric, saying the US has no interest in escalating tensions with China and “will not fall for the bait and sabre-rattling.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stressed that the decision to visit Taiwan was ultimately made by Pelosi. He noted that members of Congress have visited the island regularly over the years.
Kirby said administration officials were concerned that Beijing might use the visit as an excuse to take provocative action in response.
U.S. officials said the U.S. military would step up movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific during Pelosi’s visit. Her Asian tour starts in Singapore on Monday.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won the mainland’s civil war. The US maintains informal and defense ties with Taiwan, even though it recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government.