Tensions are escalating in the South China Sea after China posted a threatening military video in response to confirmation that United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted a video on social media platform WeChat showing land, sea, and air assets being deployed in simulated combat.
The latest move follows a week of harsh rhetoric with China, at one point, threatening to shoot down Pelosi’s plane.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” said Hu Xijin, a former Chinese army officer, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member, who is considered China’s mouthpiece. “The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
On the eve of the 82-year-old Speaker’s visit to Taiwan, China vows to take “resolute and strong measures” if she proceeds with the trip.
China and Taiwan were separated after the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with a communist victory on the mainland.
For years, China has been carefully executing a plan to coronate itself as the world’s prevailing superpower by the year 2049, the centenaries of the Chinese Communist Party and the Republic of China. Reunification with Taiwan is a central part of that goal.
Historically, on the issue of Taiwan, the U.S. has had a policy of “strategic ambiguity” to allay CCP concerns that America may choose the side of Taiwan if kinetic conflict were to erupt. Pelosi’s visit is seen as a threat to that longstanding doctrine.
Pelosi visiting Taiwan would “severely undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, gravely impact the foundation of China-U.S. relations and send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang said. “If the U.S. were to insist on going down the wrong path, China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The trip was originally scheduled for April, but was cancelled after Pelosi tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Over the U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, Chinese side has repeatedly made clear our firm opposition to the visit,” Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesperson Senior Colonel Tan Kefei said in a statement.
“As the ‘third most important figure’ of the U.S. government, if Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, the move will seriously violate the one-China principle and the provisions in the three China-U.S. joint communiques, severely endanger China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he cautioned. “It will have a critically negative impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and is bound to cause extremely serious harm to the relations between the two countries and their militaries, and lead to further escalation of tension across the Taiwan Straits.”
Days before Pelosi’s scheduled visit, the PLA began conducting “live-fire exercises” off the coast of China.
The U.S. has sent the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to the region.