As US Lower House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is said to be planning a trip to Taiwan, China's Armed Forces have been reported to be preparing for war and might even try to shoot down the Democratic Congresswoman's aircraft.
Earlier this week, US President Joseph Biden told his Chinese colleague Xi Jinping during a two-hour telephone conversation that his country's view regarding the island that Beijing regards as a rogue province has not changed an iota.
In this scenario, Beijing announced Saturday (local time) military exercises with live ammunition off Pingtan Island in the Taiwan Strait.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said a visit to Taiwan by Pelosi would challenge China's red line, and any challenge to our red line will undoubtedly face firm countermeasures.
A commentator for China's state-affiliated Global Times wrote on Twitter that ”if U.S. fighter jets escort Pelosi's plane to Taiwan, it is an invasion. The PLA (Chinese People's Liberation Army) has the right to forcibly expel Pelosi's plane and U.S. fighter jets, including warning shots and tactical obstruction moves. If they are ineffective, then they are shot at.
China considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, which it has not yet managed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the 1949 Chinese civil war. Beijing opposes any foreign initiative that would give international legitimacy to Taiwanese authorities.
Pingtan is the closest to Taiwan under Beijing's control. Saturday's maneuvers are to take place about 120 kilometers from the Taiwanese coast.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that he hoped his country and China could handle their disagreements over Taiwan and insisted Biden had told Xi that the United States strongly opposes any unilateral effort to change the status quo on Taiwan.
We have many differences when it comes to Taiwan, but over the last 40 years we have managed those differences and we have done so in a way that has preserved peace and stability and allowed the people of Taiwan to prosper, Blinken said.
The United States has recognized the Chinese regime since 1979, according to the one China principle whose capital is in Beijing. It does not officially recognize Taiwan but supports it militarily. It would be important, as part of our shared responsibility, to continue to manage this in a smart way that doesn't create the prospect of conflict and keeping the lines of communication open on the issue, Blinken told reporters.
We believe that direct communication among leaders is the most essential aspect of fulfilling our responsibilities to manage issues like Taiwan in the most responsible way possible, he said.
A Chinese army group’s post about “preparing for war” drew hundreds of thousands of approvals on the social network Weibo, according to the Global Times. A message containing just two characters in Mandarin was posted Friday on the Weibo page of the PLA’s 80th Group Army, headquartered in Weifang, Shandong province. It quickly generated over 300,000 positive reactions and nearly 20,000 comments. The phrase could be translated as “prepare for war” or “ready to fight,” but Global Times said the correct translation was “Preparing for war!”
The Weibo posting came just a day after the telephone call between Xi and Biden, in which the Chinese leader said that “those who play with fire will perish by it; It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this.”
Whether Pelosi intends or not to visit Taiwan is yet to be confirmed.
The Pentagon has reportedly developed a 'contingency plan' to send additional ships and fighter jets to the region, while China has threatened the US with 'unbearable consequences' should the visit go forward, with some pundits going so far as to advocate attacking Taiwan in response to such a 'provocation'.” according to Russia Today (RT).
Taiwan took up most of Thursday’s call between Xi and Biden, although the White House said other issues such as counternarcotics, climate change, and health security were discussed, in addition to ”the value of meeting face-to-face and agreed to have their teams follow up to find a mutually agreeable time to do so.”
Meanwhile, White House Spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre declined to say whether the Biden administration was considering the current situation as an escalation of tensions, but the President did admit to reporters last week that the U.S. military had concerns about plans for Pelosi's alleged trip.
Jean-Pierre did admit that Biden would not tell Pelosi not to move forward with the trip. “The president has been a senator himself, I mentioned, for 36 years,” she said. “He understands this process. You do not tell a congressional member where they can or cannot go. He believes that. This is up to the speaker to decide.”
Biden said during his first trip to Asia as president back in May that his country would come to Taiwan’s defense in case of an attack from Beijing.
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