September 23, 2023

HONG KONG — US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Malaysia for Taiwan for meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and local lawmakers on the self-ruled island as Beijing fretted over interference in its core interests.

Ms. Pelosi will spend a night in Taipei on Tuesday after the plane carrying her and other members of a congressional delegation arrives from Kuala Lumpur, people familiar with the plans said. The imminent arrival of the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years has not been officially confirmed.

The closely watched Asian tour has raised tensions between China and the US, with Beijing diplomats and the People’s Liberation Army repeatedly threatening retaliation if Ms Pelosi visits Taiwan, which China considers its territory. China’s foreign ministry has warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if Washington mishandles the situation between China and Taiwan.

“Regardless of why Pelosi is going to Taiwan, it will be a foolish, dangerous and unnecessary gamble,” State Department spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing on Tuesday. “It is hard to imagine a more reckless and provocative action.”

China is conducting more military drills off its coast this week, adding to drills that began over the weekend. Live shelling is planned from Monday to Thursday in the Bohai Sea off China’s northeast coast, according to announcements made by Chinese maritime security authorities. Another series of exercises will be held from Tuesday to Saturday in waters just east of Hainan province on the southern island.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, which oversees the military forces closest to Taiwan, released a roughly 2.5-minute video on social media Monday night that showed Chinese air, sea and ground forces training and they launch rockets. “Ready and standby, fighting on command,” the social media post said. “Bury all incoming enemies.”

Taiwan conducted naval exercises last Tuesday as part of its annual military and civil preparedness exercises. The drills came amid growing concerns in the West that China could attack the island. Photo: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg News

U.S. officials said Beijing appeared to be positioning itself to respond to the visit, including military exercises, firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait or near the island, or sending more aircraft and navy ships to areas closer to Taiwan where they have not. t worked previously.

The Chinese response will likely be “unprecedented, but not unchanged,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in an analysis released on Tuesday.

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