As tension in the area mounts, Taiwan holds air raid drills, and China doubles down in its warnings against a visit to the controversial island nation by Nancy Pelosi.
So far, the House speaker is still defending her planned visit to Taiwan, a region that China has long claimed as its sovereign territory. The Chinese foreign ministry has upped its rhetoric, warning that the trip could have “serious consequences” for the US.
“The Chinese side has made it clear to the US on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. We are fully prepared,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
“If the US goes its own way, China will certainly take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” he added.
Meanwhile, in light of such saber-rattling by the Chinese, Taiwan has stepped up precautions for potential military action ordered by Beijing, holding air raid drills across the country. Sirens could be heard blaring in Taipei, the nation’s capital city, signaling residents to evacuate the streets for 30 minutes.
The contested island also tested its missile warning system, which sends mass text messages to residents in the event of incoming attacks.
High-profile US delegations have consistently visited Taiwan over the past year as tensions between the US and China escalate. Six US congressmen made a surprise visit to the island in April, representing the most senior-level US officials to ever visit Taiwan.
The bipartisan group included Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Rob Portman of Ohio, Republican Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
China issued a similar condemnation of their trip, with the foreign ministry saying it “firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and China’s Taiwan region.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., also visited the island in late April, announcing a new partnership between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces.
Despite such previous visits, should Pelosi proceed with her trip as scheduled, Nevertheless, her position as current House speaker would make her among the most senior officials to ever make a diplomatic visit to the island.
No House speaker has visited Taiwan since Newt Gingrich in 1997.