“If she dares”: China warns Nancy Pelosi against a visit to Taiwan | Political news

China says its military will “never sit idly by” should US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by Beijing.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian reiterated previous warnings on Monday, saying “there will be serious consequences if she insists on making the visit.” He did not specify specific consequences.

“We are fully prepared for any eventuality,” he said. “The People’s Liberation Army [PLA] will never stand idly by. China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. »

PLA ships have been stationed near the median line in the Taiwan Strait, which separates China and Taiwan, since Monday, and several military planes flew near the line on Tuesday morning, Reuters news agency reported. citing anonymous sources. Taiwan has sent planes to monitor the situation, he added.

China has steadily increased diplomatic and military pressure on self-governing democracy since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016. But threats of retaliation following a visit by Pelosi raised fears of a worsening crisis amid ongoing tension between Beijing and Beijing. Washington, which maintains formal diplomatic relations with China, but is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Several Taiwanese media reported late Monday, citing unnamed sources, that Pelosi would travel to Taiwan on Tuesday and spend the night in Taipei.

One of the newspapers, the Liberty Times, said Pelosi was due to go to Taiwan’s parliament on Wednesday morning.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans.

“We have many differences when it comes to Taiwan, but over the past 40 years we have managed those differences and done so in a way that has preserved peace and stability and enabled the people of Taiwan to live together. ‘thrive,’ the US secretary said. of State Antony Blinken.

“It would be important, as part of our shared responsibility, to continue to manage this in a sensible way that does not create the prospect of conflict.”

Amid widespread speculation about the potential stopover in Taiwan, Pelosi’s office said Sunday she was leading a congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. He did not mention Taiwan.

Zhao said it would be “blatant interference in China’s internal affairs” if Pelosi traveled to Taiwan, and warned it would lead to “very serious developments and consequences”.

Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao replied, “If she dares to go, let’s wait and see.”

A skillfully produced video by the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, which showed scenes of military drills and preparations and was posted on state media sites on Monday evening, urged troops to “stand ready in battle formation, to be ready to fight on command, to bury all incoming enemies”.

China, which has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island, considers that the visits of American officials to Taiwan send an encouraging signal to those on the island who want independence.

A visit by Pelosi, second in line to the US presidency and a longtime critic of China, would come amid deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last Speaker of the House to visit Taiwan, in 1997.

‘Play with fire’

The White House dismissed China’s rhetoric as baseless and inappropriate.

‘The speaker has the right to travel to Taiwan,’ White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, warning that China was ‘positioning’ itself to respond with a show of military force. .

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit in line with long-standing US policies into some kind of crisis,” he said. However, China “appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further action in the coming days.”

This “could include military provocations such as firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan”, according to Kirby, also identifying “large-scale aerial entry into the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone” as a possible step.

Some developments “could have a different scope and scale,” Kirby said, noting that the last Chinese missile launch in the Taiwan Strait was in the mid-1990s.

In a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire shall perish.”

Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to alter the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

On Monday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang did not directly respond when asked if Pelosi would surrender.

“We always warmly welcome visits to our country from distinguished foreign guests,” he told reporters in Taipei.

People eat as a television broadcasts news about Nancy Pelosi at a restaurant in Taipei [Ann Wang/Reuters]

“Really just symbolism”

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said a visit from Pelosi would trigger Beijing’s strongest countermeasures in years, but he didn’t expect it to spark a major military conflict.

“China has unequivocally reiterated its opposition to Taiwanese separatism. The United States has repeatedly said that its one-China policy has not changed and that it opposes any change in the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. -he declares.

“Except by accident, I’m sure neither side would intentionally take military action that could result in a major security risk.”

Asia political risk analyst Ross Feingold said Beijing could cut some trade with its American allies, close consulates and increase large-scale military exercises in the region if Pelosi makes the trip. He added that the purpose of his visit was unclear.

“The thing is, Pelosi is a bit of a lame duck. It is likely that she will not be a speaker in January next year. So what could she really do for Taiwan in the remaining months of speaking is a legitimate question to ask. So what’s the point of all this? It’s really just the symbolism,” Feingold told Al Jazeera.

Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters he believed the U.S. military believed a visit by Pelosi to Taiwan was “not a good idea right now.”

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