Taiwan’s military raised its level of combat readiness in response to exercises and live-fire drills by China ahead of a widely reported visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, local media reported Tuesday.
The self-governing island is “strengthening its combat readiness” from Tuesday morning until Thursday afternoon and will make adjustments according to military threats from Beijing, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
Beijing, which has lashed out since rumors of the trip first emerged two weeks ago, has ramped up its military activity in the region in recent days. It conducted live-fire exercises over the weekend and announced four more sets of live-fire drills in regional waterways including the South China Sea this week.
Before Pelosi’s arrival yesterday, several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a source told Reuters. Two Chinese warships — a missile destroyer and a frigate — were also spotted in international waters off the coast of Orchid Island early yesterday morning, a military source said.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that China is using the Pelosi visit as a “pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.”
“China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and, perhaps, over longer time horizons,” Kirby said.
The steps could include “firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan,” he added.
The House Speaker is leading a congressional delegation that includes Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-CA), Suzan Del Bene (D-WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Andy Kim (D-NJ). In addition to Taiwan, the delegation will visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.