Taiwan is on high alert amid China's threat as Nancy Pelosi visits island
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said her delegation's visit to Taiwan was a show of support for the island, as she concluded a one-day visit that left China seething. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would "not back down".
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"Today, our delegation... came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship," Ms Pelosi said during an event with President Tsai Ing-wen. The trip by Ms Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, has ignited a diplomatic firestorm.
China also announced live-fire military drills encircling Taiwan, in a move Taipei's Defence Ministry said threatened the island's key ports and urban areas.
At some points, the zone of Chinese operations will come within 20 km of Taiwan's shoreline, according to coordinates shared by the People's Liberation Army.
With the risk of conflict or miscalculation rising, officials from outgunned Taiwan have tried to appear resolute to preserve public calm. "The defence ministry has closely monitored and strengthened preparations, and will respond appropriately in due time," Taiwan's Defence Department said.
Taiwan's Defence Ministry also said China's military exercises breach the island's territorial waters. "Some of the areas of China's drills breach into... (Taiwan's) territorial waters," Defence Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said at a press conference. "This is an irrational move to challenge the international order."
In economic retaliation to Ms Pelosi's visit, China rolled out curbs on the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan while halting shipments of sand to the island.
Southeast Asian foreign ministers will seek ways to help calm rising tensions over Taiwan at regional talks today. The meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh had planned to discuss the bloody crisis in Myanmar.
China has vowed to seize self-ruled, democratic Taiwan one day, by force if necessary. Beijing tries to keep the island isolated on the world stage and opposes countries having official exchanges with Taipei.
Taiwan's 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has intensified under current President Xi Jinping, China's most assertive leader in a generation.
Japan has expressed concern to China over its military drills in waters around Taiwan. "The maritime areas announced by the Chinese side as those to be used for military exercises... overlaps with Japan's exclusive economic zone. Considering the live-fire training nature of this military activity, Japan has expressed concerns to the Chinese side," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
With inputs from AFPPost a comment