China fired a new volley Monday in the war of words over a potential trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
And on the ground on the island, officials are preparing for something even more serious.
On both sides of the Pacific, the pressure is mounting.
“The Chinese side has made it clear to the U.S. on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. We are fully prepared,” Zhao said.
“If the U.S. 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.
On Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, we are fully prepared for any eventuality. If the US side insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will take firm & strong measures. The US must assume full responsibility for any severe consequence arising thereof. pic.twitter.com/dQs3N9C99L
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) July 25, 2022
Meanwhile, Fox News reported, Taiwan has been conducting air raid drills across the country, and sirens could be heard in the capital of Taiwan.
The island nation’s military has mobilized, according to The Associated Press.
“Air raid sirens were sounded in the capital Taipei and the military was holding its annual multi-day Han Kuang drills, including joint air and sea exercises and the mobilization of tanks and troops,” the AP reported.
While the news service reported there was no “direct link” between the military events and the controversy over the potential Pelosi visit, “they underscore the possibility of a renewed crisis in the Taiwan Strait, considered a potential hotspot for conflict that could envelop the entire region.”
According to Reuters, the Zhao statements confirmed a Financial Times report on Saturday that the communist government has delivered what it called a “private warning” to the Biden White House that a visit by Pelosi would have serious repercussions.
China claims the island is a breakaway part of the country, not an independent nation.
“Beijing has not been explicit about its potential reaction. Its military could try to block Pelosi from landing in Taiwan or take other actions to impede her visit, such as using fighter jets to intercept her US military aircraft,” Financial Times reported.
In his meeting with reporters, Zhao said Beijing was not taking the 82-year-old California Democrat’s proposed visit lightly.
“We are seriously prepared,” he told reporters when asked to comment on the Financial Times report, according to Reuters.
“The United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” he added.
Last week, President Joe Biden appeared to be worried about the prospect of a serious Chinese reaction.
“Well, I — I think that — the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is,” Biden told reporters Wednesday.
The New York Post reported that Pelosi’s potential visit — possibly in August — had not been confirmed by the speaker’s office.
Still, critics of the administration have faulted Biden for appearing to show weakness in the face of Chinese intransigence. One of them was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is certainly no fan of Pelosi.
“What is the Pentagon thinking when it publicly warns against Speaker Pelosi going to Taiwan?” the Republican wrote in a Twitter post on Monday.
”If we are so intimidated by the Chinese Communists we can’t even protect an American Speaker of the House why should Beijing believe we can help Taiwan survive,” Gingrich said. “Timidity is dangerous.”
What is the Pentagon thinking when it publicly warns against Speaker Pelosi going to Taiwan? If we are so intimidated by the Chinese Communists we can’t even protect an American Speaker of the House why should Beijing believe we can help Taiwan survive. Timidity is dangerous.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 25, 2022
Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit Taiwan, in 1997, according to Fox News.
CORRECTION, July 26, 2022: The Western Journal has added information from The Associated Press to this article to clarify that the current military mobilization in Taiwan is not directly related to specific, recent Chinese threats of aggression, but is part of its annual “Han Kuang” drills, which Taiwan’s military has conducted each year for over two decades.
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