China piles up pressure over US House speaker’s Taiwan visit
Shining BD Desk || Shining BD
The United States has killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden announced on Monday (local time). The strike to eliminate al-Zawahiri was carried out on Saturday, Biden added, underlining that no family member of the slain terrorist was harmed during the operation.
Pelosi’s prospective visit is heavily trending on Chinese social media as speculation and tension mount about how Beijing will respond if she does visit the self-ruled island, which China claims as it owns.
Reports from Taiwan and CNN said Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan as part of her Asia tour - the first for a US House speaker in 25 years.
An unnamed Taiwanese official told CNN that she is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight.
There is no confirmation when exactly Pelosi will land in Taipei but the visit could happen on Tuesday.
Pelosi landed in Singapore on Monday on a four-nation tour including Malaysia, South Korea and Japan: There is no mention of Taiwan in her officially released itinerary.
Several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, a source told Reuters, as China continues to strongly oppose the visit, calling it a gross interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and has not ruled out using force if required to merge it with the mainland.
“Several Chinese warships had remained close to the unofficial dividing line since Monday,” the Reuters report said.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is holding multiple military drills including a live-combat exercise in Fujian province, which is located opposite Taiwan.
The Fujian provincial military command conducted a live-fire shooting in a sea area off the province to test its overall combat capability.
“If the speaker does decide to visit and China tries to create some kind of crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, that would be entirely on Beijing,” Blinken was quoted as saying by Reuters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York.
“We are looking for them (China) - in the event she decides to visit - to act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward,” Blinken said
Millions of Chinese social media users had commented on the topic of Pelosi’s visit and Blinken’s statement, blaming Washington for escalating tension in the region.
The Biden administration officials have also warned China not to take escalatory actions.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit, consistent with long standing US policy, into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” National Security Council Strategic Coordinator for Communications John Kirby was quoted by CNN as telling reporters on Monday.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a stern warning against Pelosi’s visit on Monday, saying the PLA will not sit idly by if she has a Taiwan stopover.
“We want to once again make it clear to the US side that the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality and that the PLA of China will never sit idly by, and we will make resolute response and take strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said on Monday.
“What the US should do is to abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three Sino-US joint communiqués, fulfil President Biden’s commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ and not arrange for a visit by Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan,” he said.