US-China tensions mount as Nancy Pelosi’s plane heads for Taiwan | Top points
China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned of retaliation if Pelosi visits, saying its military will “never sit idly by.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island that China claims for 25 years.
Pelosi’s visit has triggered increased tensions between China and the United States. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.
China had warned of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went ahead with the trip. The Biden administration did not explicitly urge her to call it off, while seeking to assure Beijing it would not signal any change in U.S. policy on Taiwan.
Speculation has centered on threatening military exercises and possible incursions by Chinese planes and ships into areas under Taiwanese control.
A plane carrying Pelosi and her delegation left Malaysia on Tuesday after a brief stop that included a working lunch with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, It was unclear where it was headed, although local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi would arrive on Tuesday night. The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times — Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers — cited unidentified sources as saying she would spend the night in Taiwan.
Here are top updates on Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit
> Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Washington's betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility." “Some American politicians are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan," Wang said in a statement. “This will definitely not have a good outcome ... the exposure of America's bullying face again shows it as the world's biggest saboteur of peace."
> China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be annexed by force if necessary, has repeatedly warned of retaliation if Pelosi visits, saying its military will “never sit idly by.” “The US and Taiwan have colluded to make provocations first, and China has only been compelled to act out of self-defense,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
> Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined to comment. Premier Su Tseng-chang didn’t explicitly confirm Pelosi’s visit, but said that “any foreign guests and friendly lawmakers” are “very much welcome.”
> In addition to Chinese planes flying close to the median line of the strait, several Chinese warships have sailed near the unofficial dividing line since Monday. Chinese warships and aircraft "squeezed" the median line on Tuesday morning, an unusual move the person described as "very provocative."
> Unspecified hackers launched a cyberattack on the Taiwanese Presidential Office’s website, making it temporarily unavailable Tuesday evening. The Presidential office said the website was restored shortly after the attack, which overwhelmed it with traffic.
> White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby underscored that the decision whether to visit Taiwan was ultimately Pelosi’s. He noted that members of Congress have routinely visited the island over the years.
> US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged China to “act responsibly” if Pelosi proceeds with the visit.
> The flight tracking site Flightradar24 said Pelosi's aircraft, a US Air Force Boeing C-40C, was the most tracked in the world on Tuesday evening with 300,000 viewers.
> Pelosi kicked off her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday as her possible visit to Taiwan sparked jitters in the region.
> On Thursday, Pelosi is to meet with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo in Seoul for talks on security in the Indo-Pacific region, economic cooperation and the climate crisis, according to Kim’s office. Pelosi is also due to visit Japan, but it is unclear when she heading there.
(With inputs from agencies)