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Chinese military won’t ‘sit idly by’ if Pelosi sets foot on Taiwan: Chinese MFA

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Asia tour started on Monday in Singapore and continued in Malaysia on Tuesday fueling China’s anger over Taiwan being on the list of countries she is set to visit and prompting the country’s foreign ministry to say that Chinese military would “not sit idly by” if she sets foot on Taiwanese soil.

Chinese MFA Spokesperson Zhao Lijian expanded on the warning, saying that because of Ms Pelosi’s status as the “No. 3 official of the US government”, a visit to Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and warned that it would result in “very serious developments and consequences.”

Our delegation met with Singapore’s Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean.

In our meeting, our Members saluted Singapore’s commitment to a free & open Indo-Pacific & advancing security & stability in the region. We also learned about Singapore’s efforts to address the climate crisis.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 1, 2022

Singapore was Ms Pelosi’s first stop in her tour involving four Asian countries, including Taiwan, taking place amid growing US-Chinese tensions over the island country of Taiwan. Concerns emerged that the US dignitary’s visit could trigger a violent response from Beijing.

Honored to be received at the Istana by the President of Singapore Halimah Yacob.

Our delegation expressed thanks for Singapore's hospitality in hosting our Navy sailors & civilian mariners, and we discussed how our nations can continue advancing a free, open Indo-Pacific.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 1, 2022

One person familiar with Pelosi’s itinerary told Reuters that most of her planned meetings, including with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday, and that it was possible that her delegation would only arrive in Taiwan early on Wednesday.

“Everything is uncertain,” the person said.

Taiwanese daily Liberty Times said Pelosi’s delegation was due to arrive at 10:20 pm (14:20 GMT) on Tuesday, without naming sources.

The Chinese side will definitely take resolute and strong countermeasures in response and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As to what measures, if she dares to go, then let us wait and see,” Mr Zhao said.

The US side needs to fulfill President Biden’s commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence” and refrain from arranging for a visit by Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan.

— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) August 1, 2022

China flexing muscles

The Chinese military carried out a live-fire exercise right across Taiwan Straits on Saturday night, July 30. Residents of Pingtan in southeastern China’s Fujian province recorded videos of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) firing Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) rockets and flares at sea and shooting tracer bullets into the sky right from the coastal city facing Taiwan.

Pingtan #Fujian 186km from #taipei . The PLA undertaking live fire drills to warn the #USA & #Taiwan .

— Ninjamonkey 🇮🇳 (@Aryan_warlord) July 30, 2022

On Tuesday morning, Chinese planes flew close to the median line of the sensitive waterway dividing the Taiwan Strait, while several Chinese warships had remained close to the unofficial dividing line since Monday, a source told Reuters.

The same source told Reuters that both Chinese warships and aircraft “squeezed” the median line on Tuesday morning, an unusual move described as “very provocative.”

According to the source, the Chinese aircraft repeatedly conducted tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait on Tuesday morning, while Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby.

🇺🇸🇨🇳🇹🇼US Navy aircraft near Taiwan.

Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, tension in the region has reached its highest level.‌‌

There are also very harsh statements coming from China.

— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) July 30, 2022

Neither side’s aircraft normally cross the median line.

In another city lying opposite Taiwan, Xiamen, which is also home to a large Chinese military presence, residents reported sightings of armoured vehicles on the move on Tuesday and posted pictures online.

China’s having live-fire military drills near Pingtan in Fuzhou in the Eastern Fujian province, moving troops & armored vehicles to territory closest to Taiwan. This is as the US appears to insist on sending a delegation w House Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan, despite China’s warnings.

— Fiorella Isabel (@FiorellaIsabelM) July 30, 2022

Chinese social media rippled with both apprehension over potential conflict and patriotic zeal over the prospect of unification with Taiwan. The topic of Pelosi’s visit topped trending items on Twitter-like Weibo.

Taiwan bracing itself for the worst

​​Last month, Taiwan held a comprehensive air-raid exercise across the island for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted regular drills, Reuters reported.

Recently, a range of preparations took place in Taiwan, including designating locations and brushing up the already existing air-raid shelters.

Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population, in its shelters whose number exceeds 4,600. The capital’s officials have been updating their database of designated shelters, putting their whereabouts on a smartphone app and launching a social media and poster campaign to make sure people know how to find their closest one.

Among the instructions citizens received in case of incoming missiles was to take cover in their basement parking lots with their hands covering their eyes and ears while keeping their mouths open – to minimise the impact of blast waves.

Under Taiwanese law, the shelters must be kept clean and open by the authorities but they don’t have to be stocked with supplies like food and water.

Yellow labels about the size of an A4 sheet of paper with the maximum number of people it can take clearly displayed are put on shelter entrances to facilitate their spotting.

Abercrombie Yang, a director of the Building Administration Office, said that with what was going on in Ukraine, “there’s no guarantee that the innocent public won’t get hit.”

He went on to tell Reuters that “all citizens should have crisis awareness… We need the shelters in the event of an attack by the Chinese communists.”

“I think the worst thing Nancy Pelosi could do is not come because of the precedent it would establish that China can bully senior US politicians,” former Australian defence minister Christopher Pyne told me in an interview in Taipei.

— Will Glasgow (@wmdglasgow) August 1, 2022

The UK’s foreign affairs plans its own visit

As the situation in the Far East grows increasingly tense, Britain’s House of Commons foreign affairs committee is making its own plans to visit Taiwan later this year with November or early December being likely dates for the visit.

The plans of the visit come to the tune of London’s relationship with Beijing marking a steady fall. Last week saw the Conservative leadership candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, articulate their tough positions on China. Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the UK responded by accusing some British politicians of “peddling the fallacy of the so-called China threat” in a video remark.

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