China has launched a massive air and naval exercise around Taiwan and has branded a landmark visit to Taipei by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “extremely dangerous.”
China accused Pelosi, the most senior US politician in twenty-five years to visit the island China claims as its own, of “playing with fire.”
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing warned in a statement on Wednesday.
Pelosi’s visit comes despite repeated warnings from China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will one day unite with it. Beijing has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve this.
Within minutes of Pelosi landing in Taiwan on Tuesday night, China said it would immediately begin “a series of joint military operations around the island,” including using long-range live ammunition in the Taiwan Strait.
An announcement from the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said beginning Tuesday night a series of exercises would be held on the sea and in the air surrounding Taiwan, the self-governed island that China says is its sovereign territory.
“This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent major escalation of the negative actions of the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces seeking ‘independence,'” Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
Pelosi assures Taiwan of US support despite China’s threats
Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific. pic.twitter.com/2sSRJXN6ST
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 2, 2022
Pelosi assured Taiwan of Washington’s continued support during a meeting with Tsai Ing-wen, the island’s president.
Pelosi said the US “made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan” when legislators passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, a law that obliges Washington to help the island defend itself.
“Today our delegation came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear that we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship,” she said. “Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial and that is the message we are bringing here.”
Taiwan’s President has expressed her gratitude to Pelosi for her “unwavering support” for Taiwan, calling the US House Speaker one of the island’s most devoted friends.
“Thank you for taking concrete actions to show your staunch support for Taiwan at this critical moment and for expressing the US’s consistent policy supporting Taiwan’s self-defense,” Tsai Ing-wen said.