On July 28, China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would conduct “live-fire exercises” in the Southeast waters of the Tanpai Province, in the narrowest parts of the Strait less than 80 miles from mainland Taiwan.
The military exercises are the latest in a series of escalating rounds between the the United States and its allies and China, where neither of the two nuclear superpowers is backing off—at least not officially—after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly planned a trip to Taiwan.
Pelosi would be the highest-ranking sitting U.S. official to visit the self-ruled island Taiwan in 25 years since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich visited in 1997.
Pelosi’s office declined to confirm or deny the Speaker’s international travel in advance due to security considerations.
The military exercises are a culmination of the communist regime’s growing agitation about the United States’ “One China policy,” which differs from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) demands outlined in its “One China principle.” Taiwan seeks to be recognized on the world stage as a sovereign nation, citing its own democratically-elected government, Constitution, and military. The CCP and the Taiwanese government are still at war, as no peace arrangement was ever signed to end the Chinese civil war between the nationalists and communists.
Hu Xinjin, the former editor in chief of the communist regime’s mouthpiece media, Global Times, threatened on July 29 that the Chinese military “has the right to” deploy tactical obstruction and fire warning shots at Pelosi’s plane, and any accompanying U.S. fighter jets, should the House Speaker visits.
“If ineffective, then shoot them down,” Hu added.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on Tuesday that a Pelosi visit to Taiwan would “severely undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, severely impact the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and send a severely wrong signal to Taiwan’s pro-independence forces.”
“Should America go its own way, China will for sure take resolute and strong measures,” Zhao said.
U.S. lawmakers across the aisle have been pressing in favor of Pelosi’s trip.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told NBC News on July 27 that he and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) were both invited by the speaker’s office to take part in her Taiwan trip.
“Any member that wants to go, should. It shows political deterrence to President Xi,” McCaul told the news outlet. “But she should also pay attention to the military if it’s going to cause a blowback and escalate things.”
“Nobody should not go someplace because the Chinese government—which is guilty of genocide—is speaking in threatening terms,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told the news outlet.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden says Pelosi’s proposed trip is “not a good idea,” quoting the U.S. military, a day after the Chinese regime warned to take “strong measures” should the House Speaker go ahead with her trip.
“Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” Biden said on July 21, responding to a question from the press asking about Pelosi’s reported trip to the self-ruled island. “But I don’t know what the status of it is.”
Days later, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping threatened U.S. President Joe Biden not to take “unilateral efforts to change the status quo,” a phrase the CCP frequently uses to accuse the U.S. of violating its “One China” principle under which the communist regime claims sovereignty over Taiwan. The United States does not recognize the CCP policy.
“Playing with fire will set you on fire,” Xi told Biden in the July 28 call. “I hope the U.S. can see this clearly.”
The United States doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by a treaty to provide it with the arms necessary for its self-defense. The government also maintains a doctrine of “strategic ambiguity,” in which it will neither confirm nor deny whether it would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
Chieh Chung, a military expert and a research fellow at Taiwan’s Association of Strategic Foresight, told The Epoch Times on July 25 that he doesn’t believe the Chinese regime would take military action on Pelosi should she visit.
“Once their (China’s air force) warplanes approach our airspace, our (Taiwan’s) air force will take action immediately. We even will fire missiles to stop the warplanes. This will cause a military conflict,” Chieh said. “I don’t think mainland China will do this.”
Military analysts have also speculated on whether China will invade Taiwan this year.
Eric Chan, a Senior Strategist at the United States Air Force, said during a March panel hosted by the Global Taiwan Institute that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine likely put the West on high alert—a fact that should deter the CCP from invading.
“[The CCP knows] the U.S. and Europe [are] now certainly more on edge, and they are going to be watching for things like a repeat of 2014,” Chan said in the virtual event, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Therefore, the CCP is unlikely to perceive an invasion of Taiwan—or what he foresaw in 2021 as a “limited invasion” of Kinmen, a cluster of Taiwanese islands miles away from China’s southeast coast—as viable now, Chan added.
According to a March 24 legislative briefing by Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Chen Ming-tong, China is unlikely to invade Taiwan in the fall of 2022.
Chen Ming-tong cited several reasons for his judgment, including the upcoming 20th Congress, the Ukraine war, China’s COVID-19 resurgence, and China’s economic challenges.
The CCP “has never ruled out taking over Taiwan by force, but it’s the political timing that’s in question,” Chen Ming-tong said, adding that there are “no concerns” that China would invade “within President Tsai Ying-wen’s term of office.”
Nonetheless, the director warned that “Beijing is thinking more about the legitimacy of launching a war, and how it should prepare to launch a war.”
“Therefore, if Beijing makes a move, the move will be comprehensive,” Chen Ming-tong said.
Nicole Hao contributed to this report.