World Taiwan raising combat readiness for Chinese provocations over Pelosi...

Taiwan raising combat readiness for Chinese provocations over Pelosi visit, reports say

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The congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi met with Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Foreign Minister Saifuddin before stopping at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Photo courtesy of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Twitter

Aug. 2 (BP) — Taiwan’s military raised its level of combat readiness in response to exercises and live-fire drills by China ahead of a widely reported visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, local media reported Tuesday.

The self-governing island is “strengthen[ing] its combat readiness” from Tuesday morning until Thursday afternoon and will make adjustments according to military threats from Beijing, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport also stepped up security on Tuesday after receiving a bomb threat amid reports of an imminent visit by Pelosi, CNA said.

The California Democrat, who is leading a congressional delegation on an Asia trip, is expected to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday, according to multiple international and domestic media outlets.

Taiwan’s Chinese-language Liberty Times reported that Pelosi will land after 10 p.m. local time and will stay in Taipei overnight. The delegation will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and visit the country’s parliament on Wednesday, according to United Daily News.

Beijing, which has lashed out since rumors of the trip first emerged two weeks ago, has ramped up its military activity in the region in recent days. It conducted live-fire exercises over the weekend and announced four more sets of live-fire drills in regional waterways including the South China Sea this week.

China’s Eastern Theater Command also posted a video of missile strikes and military drills on Monday, while the state-run Global Times reported that the country’s air force conducted mock air combat training the night before Pelosi’s Asia trip began.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that China is using the Pelosi visit as a “pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.”

“China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and, perhaps, over longer time horizons,” Kirby said.

The steps could include “firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan,” he added.

China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said on Monday that a Pelosi visit would be “dangerous and provocative.”

“If the U.S. insists on making the visit, China will take firm and strong measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the U.S. has to bear all the serious consequences arising thereof,” he said during a press briefing as China started its rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council.

China views Taiwan as a wayward province that it has vowed to retake by force, if necessary. During a call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden not to “play with fire” over the democratic island of 23 million.

The congressional delegation’s trip began Monday in Singapore and continued on Tuesday in Malaysia, where the group met with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Foreign Minister Saifuddin.

In a statement, Pelosi said the the two sides “engaged in wide-ranging discussion on advancing our shared goals for a free and secure Indo-Pacific.”

The delegation is also slated to visit Japan and South Korea, where Pelosi is scheduled to meet with her counterpart in Seoul, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, on Thursday.

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