Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night in the highest-level visit by a US official for decades, defying Chinese threats of a military response.
The trip by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives has become a test of how far Beijing will go to deter foreign support for Taiwan and of China and the US’s ability to crisis manage their increasingly tense relationship.
Shortly after landing in Taipei, Pelosi released a statement saying her visit “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy . . . as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy”.
The Chinese foreign ministry said Pelosi’s visit “seriously infringes China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and would have “a severe impact” on US-China relations.
Pelosi is the most senior US official to visit Taiwan while in office since Newt Gingrich, one of her predecessors as Speaker, did so in 1997. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and has persistently warned that the People’s Liberation Army would “not sit by idly” if Pelosi dared visit.
In advance of Pelosi’s touchdown on Tuesday, the PLA staged air and sea manoeuvres in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait as well as a string of military drills in other coastal areas.
Beijing said on Tuesday night that it was starting military manoeuvres around Taiwan with immediate effect in response to Pelosi’s visit.
“From the evening of August 2, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will begin a series of joint military operations,” the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.
It added there would be joint air and sea manoeuvres in the waters and airspace north, south-west and south-east of Taiwan, and Chinese forces would also conduct long-range live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait and in waters off Taiwan’s east coast.
“These operations are meant as a stern deterrent against the severe increase of negative moves…
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