TAIPEI: Fear of war China’s aggression looms large in Taipei following the escalation in tension due to arrival of Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan.
China’s ministry of defence said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had been put on high alert and announced a series of targeted military operations, including missile tests in the waters east of Taiwan and drills encircling the main island for four days after Pelosi leaves.
China, which regards Taiwan as its territory, has repeatedly warned of retaliation for the visit. Shortly before Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese state media reported that Beijing’s Su-35 fighter jets were flying across the Taiwan strait.
Further, the China also summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to rebuke him over Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, state media reported on Tuesday night. The deputy foreign minister, Xie Feng, voiced “strong protests” over Pelosi’s visit during his talk with Nicholas Burns.
The visit was also welcomed by the opposition Kuomintang party, which has traditionally favoured friendlier relations with China.
Even before Pelosi left the runway, China’s foreign ministry was posting furiously online. “China firmly opposes separatist moves towards ‘Taiwan independence’ and interference by external forces,” said Hua Chunying, a ministry spokesperson. “The US should give up any attempt to play the Taiwan card.”
The visit appeared to have prompted high levels of military movement and preparations by the Chinese, Taiwanese and US militaries.
The PLA reportedly moved several warships and planes near the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait.
According to multiple social media posts, it also drove dozens of tanks and other armoured vehicles through the Chinese mainland city of Xiamen, which is 3 miles (5km) across the water from Taiwan’s outlying Kinmen Islands.
Taiwan’s defence ministry reportedly increased its military alertness for the next four days and warned it would appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to “enemy threats”.