Sirens wail over Taiwan, streets are cleared and people are moved to shelters as the island conducts military exercises amid growing concerns over China’s warning about the likely US president’s visit to the region, which it claims as its own.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February exacerbated those concerns.
China has responded strongly to reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could visit Taiwan on Tuesday, warning that the military would never “look idly by” if she visited the island.
Ms Pelosi’s office said Sunday she was leading a congressional delegation to the region that would include visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Taiwan was not mentioned.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said earlier on Monday that it would be “gross interference in China’s internal affairs” if Pelosi were to visit Taiwan, warning that it would lead to “very serious developments and effects”.
China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp on the island.
A visit from Ms. Pelosi would come amid deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last speaker of the House to visit Taiwan in 1997.
Speaking to US President Joe Biden on Thursday, the Chinese president warned him that Washington must abide by the one-China principle and that “those who play with fire will perish.”
Biden told Xi that US policy towards Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral attempts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never refrained from using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the people can decide the island’s future.