Military tensions rise across Taiwan Strait as Pelosi plans a trip

Beijing, Aug 2 (EFE).- The military standoff off the Taiwan Strait grew deeper on Tuesday amid speculations that United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will arrive on the island for a trip that could enrage China.

As suspense mounted about the high-profile trip, the Chinese military planned a series of war games along its southern and northeastern shores, prompting Taiwan to beef up its battle preparedness.

China has flown six fighter planes in the last two days close to the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait.

Two Chinese warships, a missile destroyer, and a frigate were reportedly spotted in international waters off the Lanyu Island in the east early on Tuesday morning, said an unidentified military source quoted by Taiwan’s official news agency, CNA.

At approximately 4 am, the destroyer, accompanied by a frigate, traveled 45 nautical miles southeast of Lanyu, a military officer who spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity said.

According to the news agency, Chinese frigates, missile destroyers, and surveillance ships have spent the last two days sailing close to Hualien County and Lanyu in Taiwan.

In response to the Chinese drills, the Taiwanese military said it heightened its combat readiness from Tuesday that would remain in effect for three days, CNA said, citing an anonymous source.

However, the news agency said the military preparedness remained at the “normal readiness” and had not raised to the “emergency” level.

The source said the military would adjust the alert level depending on the military threat from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

On Monday, Chinese maritime security authorities said they planned the war games in the South China Sea and the Bohai Sea for this week.

China’s Eastern Theater Command, which oversees the South China Sea and some Taiwan-related missions, released a short video on social media featuring land, sea, and airborne exercises, underlining that the military was “ready for battle.”

The Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV also aired the test firing of a Dongfeng-17 medium-range hypersonic ballistic missile on Monday to highlight the military’s “solid strength.”

The Chinese military said it would hold the war exercises from Aug.2 to 6 in the South China Sea and between Aug.1 and 4 in the Bohai Sea in the north.

The authorities have declared that the areas where the military was conducting drills would remain closed to maritime traffic.

The exercises in the South China Sea are taking place near the shores of the southern Chinese island of Hainan, just over 1,000 km from Taiwan.

China’s military and civilian officials have warned of possible consequences if Pelosi, the second in line to the US presidency, undertakes the trip to the self-governing island that Beijing claims as a part of its territory.

Last week, Defense Ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei said the Chinese military “will not sit idly by” if Pelosi undertakes the trip.

During their telephone conversation last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked his US counterpart Joe Biden “not to play with fire.”

If the trip takes place, it would be the first visit by a US House Speaker to Taiwan since 1997, when Newt Gingrich visited the island.

She first announced her intention to visit Taiwan in April but was forced to postpone after contracting Covid-19.

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