Military and Defense

Chinese Ships, Warplanes Taunting Taiwan As Pelosi’s Plane Nears Contested Island

China reportedly escalated military deployments near Taiwan, coming dangerously close to entering Taiwanese airspace as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane nears the contested island.

Chinese warplanes buzzed the unofficial dividing line between Taiwanese and Chinese waters Tuesday, briefly touching it before circling back to base as Taiwanese aircraft stood ready to engage, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous source. Several Chinese warships also passed through waters adjacent to Taiwan on Tuesday morning, coordinating with the aircraft to put pressure on the median line in a “very provocative” fashion.

“The Chinese Communist Party is raising the specter of war and should be punished for doing so…. We need to act in such a way that the CCP sees that its security has been degraded, not improved, because it threatened the Speaker,” Jacqueline Deal, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and President and CEO of the Long Term Strategy Group, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

While the warplanes departed, the Chinese ships remain in the area, Reuters reported.

Chinese social media users began posting videos of tanks and troops moving across the southern Chinese city of Xiamen toward the Fujian province coast, which borders the Taiwan Strait, Tuesday. Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.

The website of the Government of Taiwan also suffered a brief outage Tuesday due to a cyberattack originating from overseas, Reuters reported.

The Taiwanese ministry of defense identified air activity in the strait on Monday and said it will mobilize as needed to address “enemy threats,” Reuters reported.

Chinese coast guard vessels also entered Japan’s territorial waters Monday after a similar movement on July 8, a spokesman for the Japan Coast Guard’s 11th Regional Headquarters told Stars and Stripes.

Pelosi’s plane will reportedly touch down in Taiwan at 10 p.m. local time, and the speaker is scheduled to hold meetings with Taiwanese leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen, Wednesday, Reuters reported. The Taiwanese Office of the President would not publicly comment on the details Pelosi’s visit.

“We are closely following the itinerary of Speaker Pelosi,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday. “A visit to Taiwan by her would … greatly threaten peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, severely undermine China-US relations and lead to a very serious situation and grave consequences.”

“We will not take the bait or engage in sabre rattling. At the same time, we will not be intimidated,” White House spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing Monday.

The White House and Pentagon cautioned Pelosi against the visit over fears it could ignite a conflict with China. The U.S. currently has two ships, an aircraft carrier and an amphibious vessel, operating in the strait.

China conducted live fire drills Saturday in the Taiwan strait, according to CNN.

The Chinese Embassy, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry, as well as Pelosi’s office, did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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Micaela Burrow

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Micaela Burrow

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