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China Kicks Off Military Drills Around Taiwan As Pelosi Touches Down

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced military drills in positions encircling Taiwan hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane touched down in Taiwan.

Joint maritime and air drills began Tuesday evening, with live fire exercises scheduled from Aug. 4-7 after Pelosi departs from the contested island, state-run Global Times reported. The live fire drills will take place at six points surrounding the island and could represent a test run for eventual moves to assert full control over Taiwan.

“This action is targeted at the US’s shocking recent major escalation on the Taiwan issue, and serves as a serious warning to Taiwanese independence forces or those seeking independence,” Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.

Rocket launchers mobilized and stealth fighter jets took off from the Chinese mainland Tuesday evening, Global Times reported. Gu Zhong, the Eastern Theater Command’s deputy chief of staff, said China was “making preparations for all crises.”

Pelosi’s flight landed at 10:43 p.m. local time at Songshan Airport in Taipei amid escalating Chinese warnings and reports of military activity near Taiwan. Taiwan’s defense ministry said 21 Chinese warplanes violated Taiwan’s air defense identification zone Tuesday, CNN reported.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met with U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns late Tuesday to protest against the “extremely vicious” nature of Pelosi’s visit, accusing the U.S. of supporting Tawianese independence, Xinhua reported.

“China will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the US Speaker’s visit. All the consequences must be borne by the US and the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday, Global Times reported.

“The announced PLA drills, likely to be larger in scale than the one in the 1996 Taiwan Straits crisis, serve not only as warnings to the US and ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionists, but also as rehearsals for the PLA to reunify the island by force,” the Global Times reported, citing experts.

Tensions flared between China and Taiwan in 1996 after the U.S. granted former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui permission to visit the U.S. on an unofficial basis, the first time a Taiwanese leader had traveled to the U.S., according to Axios. In response, China deployed over 100,000 troops to the Fujian province bordering the Taiwan Strait and conducted missile tests that came dangerously close to striking Taiwanese target

Pelosi’s office and the Chinese foreign and defense ministries did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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