Taiwan has reportedly put its military on high alert and has cancelled the leave of some officials and soldiers as it ‘prepares for war’ with China over US senator Nancy Pelosi’s reported visit.
According to Taiwan news outlets, the military has mobilised the air defence forces to “immediately prepare for war” after a high-level briefing.
This comes amid US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tour of four Asian countries, which began on Monday. Local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi will arrive on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking elected US official to visit in more than 25 years.
A US official’s visit will spark fury in China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly warned of “serious consequences” if the reported trip goes ahead.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it. We would like to once again admonish the US that we are fully prepared for any eventuality and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will never sit idly by,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was quoted as saying by AP.
China sees official American contact with Taiwan as encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a step US leaders say they don’t support.
The US administration had tried to assure Beijing there was no reason to “come to blows” and that if such a visit occurred, it would signal no change in US policy on Taiwan.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment.
Meanwhile, another US airforce passenger jet is flying from Alaska towards east Asia. Interestingly, it’s call sign is SPAR20. Nancy Pelosi’s call sign was SPAR19. Both jets are Boeing C-40C.
Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping also warned the US against meddling in Beijing’s dealings with Taiwan in a phone call with US President Joe Biden.