TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is expected to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, as several Chinese fighter jets flew near the line of demarcation that divides the Taiwan Strait, people said. Reuters.
China has repeatedly warned against Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which it claims is its own, and the United States said Monday it would not be intimidated by China’s “sabre bluster” over the visit.
The source told Reuters that several Chinese warships had been near the unofficial demarcation line since Monday, despite Chinese aircraft flying near the median line of the sensitive waterway on Tuesday morning.
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The source said both Chinese warships and aircraft “pressed” the line of demarcation on Tuesday morning, which the person described as “very provocative”.
The person said the Chinese aircraft briefly “touched” the median line and repeatedly made tactical maneuvers to circle the other side of the strait on Tuesday morning while Taiwanese aircraft were on alert nearby.
Bilateral flights generally do not cross the median line.
In a statement on Tuesday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it fully understands military operations near Taiwan and will deploy forces appropriately in response to “enemy threats”.
China’s defense and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, which lies across the street from Taiwan, there is a heavy military presence, with residents reporting sightings of armored vehicles on Tuesday and posting pictures online.
Chinese social media is abuzz with both the prospect of unification with Taiwan and a sense of patriotism, and the topic of Pelosi’s visit has become increasingly popular on Twitter-like Weibo.
A person familiar with Pelosi’s itinerary said most of her scheduled meetings, including President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday, and her delegation could arrive in Taiwan early Wednesday morning.
“Everything is uncertain,” the man said.
Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times reported that Pelosi’s delegation was due to arrive at 10:20 pm (1420 GMT) on Tuesday, without citing sources.
Pelosi began her Asian tour in Singapore on Monday and visited Malaysia on Tuesday. His office said he would also visit South Korea and Japan, but made no mention of a visit to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi’s travel plans, but the White House – which has not confirmed the trip – said she was entitled to go.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that Beijing’s responses could include firing missiles near Taiwan, large-scale air or naval operations, or China’s assertion that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway. Monday.
“We don’t take bait or engage in sword fights. At the same time, we don’t get intimidated,” Kirby said.
Pelosi plans to meet with a small group of Chinese human rights activists on Wednesday afternoon, four sources said.
The meeting will be held at the National Human Rights Museum in New Taipei City, a source with direct knowledge said.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said a visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be a “tremendous interference in China’s internal affairs” and warned that “the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never be idle.”
Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao said: “If she dares to go, we’ll wait and see.”
China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by Beijing, as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
The visit by Pelosi, the second-in-command of the US presidency and a long-time critic of China, comes amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing.
The White House has dismissed China’s rhetoric as baseless and irrelevant.
‘Right of Visit’
Kirby said nothing about Pelosi’s potential trip would change US policy on Taiwan, and Beijing was well aware that the devolution of powers within the US government meant Pelosi would make her own decisions.
“The speaker has the right to go to Taiwan,” he said at a White House briefing.
During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden that Washington must adhere to the One China policy and that “those who play with fire will perish”.
Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait or change the status quo.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future.
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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; By Tony Munro; Editing by Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore
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