Taipei: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan amid a heightened security threat from China, media reports said on Tuesday. China has warned the US that it will ‘pay the price’ if Pelosi visits Taiwan, which is the highest level of US visits in more than two decades.
‘What I can tell you is, the US will definitely have to bear responsibility and pay the price for harming China’s sovereignty and security interests’, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing in Beijing adding that China will take ‘firm and powerful’ measures in response. Before the Pelosi trip, China’s military said that it would conduct drills with live ammunition off its coast at one of the narrowest points of the Taiwan Strait. A Chinese Air Force spokesperson had said the country would send fighter jets around Taiwan as a demonstration of its ability to defend its sovereignty, without offering specifics on timing.
On Monday, US National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said the US Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan and that her visit was not ‘uncommon’. ‘If she goes it’s not without precedent, it’s not new’, Kirby said, adding, ‘The Speaker has not confirmed any travel plans and it is for the Speaker to do so, and her staff’. Since the reports of the US House Speaker’s visit were released last month, Beijing has been warning of Nancy’s Taiwan visit saying that it will act strongly and take countermeasures if the US side insists on going ahead with the visit.
In a press briefing last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Pelosi’s Taiwan visit will have a severe impact on China-US ties. Earlier, US President Joe Biden had said that the US military believes it is not a ‘good idea’ for House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to travel to Taiwan as planned. ‘The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now’, Biden was quoted as saying by the White House press pool.
China has on many occasions firmly opposed any form of official interaction between the United States and the Taiwan region. While warning against the US House Speaker’s Taiwan visit, a Chinese state media outlet said visiting Taiwan is definitely a red line that Pelosi must never cross. In a phone call between the US and Chinese presidents last week, Xi Jinping told Biden that China would safeguard national sovereignty and said those who play with fire will perish by it. Biden, meanwhile, told the Chinese President that US policy on Taiwan hasn’t changed and that Washington opposes unilateral changes to the status quo.