China Vows ‘Targeted Military Actions’, Including Live Fire Drills Around Taiwan, As Pelosi Stays Overnight

Update(11:56ET): As expected China’s response has been swift, with the PLA military kicking off ‘live fire’ drills in multiple areas in waters surrounding Taiwan. Beijing announced these exercises will continue from the evening of Aug.2 (literally having started within the hour of Pelosi landing in Taipei) through the next days.

China has further vowed what a statement called “targeted military actions” in response to the official visit. Additionally this is to include missile tests off of Taiwan’s east coast

China’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday night it will conduct a series of targeted military operations to “safeguard national sovereignty” in response to Pelosi’s visit. It vowed to “resolutely thwart external interference” and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist attempts’.”

It’s confirmed that Pelosi will stay the night, and is expected to next meet with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, and then depart the island.

Some Western commentators are taking note of just how close to Taiwan’s coast the PLA exercises are taking place – even within Taiwan-claimed waters. “Beyond Taiwan’s territorial waters, China’s published maps show that they plan to conduct military operations within Taiwan’s Internal Waters (purple -approx line) in two areas. This is as close as you can get without landing on the beaches…” wrote one observer.

“As close as you can get” and therefore unprecedented, based on maps confirmed in state-run Global Times.

Given the location of PLA “shooting exercises” – said to be in six regions surrounding the self-ruled island, according to a map circulating posted to Weibo, a natural question arises: will the situation be safe and secure enough for Pelosi’s US Air Force-operated Boeing C-40C to depart the island the next day? Is China sending a stern message in ‘boxing’ off the island? 

Meanwhile some of the latest reaction statements from Beijing, via a Xinhua and Bloomberg:

  • Says the visit sends wrong signal to Taiwan separatist forces
  • Says it’s very dangerous act of playing with fire, those who play with fire will set themselves on fire
  • China firmly opposes and strongly condemns the visit, and has lodged solemn representations and strong protests with the US side
  • China urges US to stop interfering with domestic affair by “playing Taiwan card”

* * * 

Update(11:10ET): Some quick reaction headlines after Pelosi has landed in Taipei, and is expected to stay overnight:

  • CHINA PLA SAYS TO CONDUCT MILITARY DRILLS ON AUG. 4-7: XINHUA
  • CHINA SAYS PELOSI’S VISIT VIOLATES ONE CHINA PRINCIPLE: XINHUA
  • PELOSI’S VISIT ‘SEVERLY IMPACTS’ CHINA-US FOUNDATION: XINHUA
  • MOFA SAYS VISIT VIOLATES CHINESE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY: XINHUA
  • 10-YEAR YIELD HITS SESSION HIGH AS TAIWAN FOREIGN MINISTER GREETS U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER PELOSI, LAST UP 7 BPS AT 2.6757%
  • CHINA SAYS VISIT ‘DANGEROUS ACT OF PLAYING WITH FIRE’: XINHUA
  • PELOSI: TALKS W/ TAIWAN TO FOCUS ON REAFFIRMING OUR SUPPOR
  • PELOSI: VISIT IN NO WAY CONTRADICTS LONGSTANDING US POLICY
  • PELOSI: MY TRIP TO TAIWAN REFLECTS MY COMMITMENT TO A VIBRANT DEMOCRACY

Pelosi’s office released her official statement upon landing:

“Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Indo-Pacific — including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance.  Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

“Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances.  The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.”

A WSJ correspondent notes “Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry is hosting a live stream of a welcoming ceremony for a very special, albeit unnamed, guest at Taipei Songshan Airport.” Meanwhile, regional reporting says a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Su-35 fighter jet(s) is crossing the Taiwan Straight. Breaking headlines:

LIVE FEED:

Update(10:17ET)Bloomberg is reporting China has closed airspace above the Taiwan Strait to all civilian aircraft

CIVIL DEFENSE WARNING SIRENS TURNED ON IN CHINA

* * *

Update(9:58ET): Pelosi’s Air Force plane – the “most watched” aircraft in the world right now – is believed to be about 30 minutes out from landing at Taipei’s Songshan International Airport after departing Malaysia hours prior. It’s currently 9:58pm in Taiwan, with prior reports estimating a 10:20 touch down. The latest via newswires: 

  • TAIWAN AIR FORCE FIGHTERS ESCORTING PELOSI FLIGHT; TO LAND IN 30 MINS
  • CHINA CLOSES AIRSPACE ABOVE TAIWAN STRAIGHT TO ALL CIVILLIAN AIRCRAFT

As of minutes ago on FlightTracker24…

It appears the Taiwanese people are ready to greet her with precisely the kind of official fanfare that will likely provoke a severe reaction from China…

* * *

Update(8:27ET)Sources speaking to Reuters have detailed that Chinese warplanes buzzed the dividing line separating the Taiwan Strait earlier in the day as House Speaker Pelosi’s US Air Force plane is said to be en route. In what marks the clearest sign that Beijing has prepped potential ‘military options’ – a flurry of Eastern Theater Command activity is taking place in waters and airspace just outside the self-ruled island of Taiwan:

In addition to Chinese planes flying close to the median line of the strait, several Chinese warships sailed near the unofficial dividing line since Monday, the source told Reuters. The source said both Chinese warships and aircraft “squeezed” the median line on Tuesday morning, an unusual move the person described as “very provocative.”

The Chinese aircraft repeatedly conducted tactical moves of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait on Tuesday morning, while Taiwanese aircraft were on standby nearby, the person said.

There have been conflicting reports that Taiwan’s forces are on “high alert” – particularly on the outer islands, however, which the defense ministry has sought to downplay.

At the same time, social media continues to be flooded with videos appearing to show Chinese military hardware and armored convoys surging into Fujian province, which is the part of the mainland nearest Taiwan.

In follow-up, The South China Morning Post writes that this stepped up PLA activity is expected to continue:

The PLA could send warplanes across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the democratic island, and analysts say it could start happening more regularly.

…A military source close to the People’s Liberation Army said it would step up its pressure campaign against Taiwan in response to a Pelosi visit and that “Beijing will give Taipei a hard time” afterwards.

But importantly, China’s defense ministry has emphasized it has never recognized the legitimacy of the “dividing line” – claiming the whole of the territorial waters as China’s.

Confirmation is now coming out that the official website of Taiwan’s presidency came under cyberattack earlier in the day.

President spokesman Xavier Chang described it as notably severe, “some 200 times worse than usual” – he said according to Bloomberg. At one point the website was inaccessible, but later came back online, he described, saying further that “government agencies will continue to strengthen monitoring to maintain the security of national information and communications, and the stable operation of key infrastructure.”

* * *

It’s after 7:00pm in Taiwan, and Reuters reports that the military aircraft likely carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation has departed Malaysia and could be bypassing the South China Sea, where the Chinese navy has been conducting sporadic military drills.

The plane widely believed to be Pelosi’s departed Kuala Lumpur at 3:42pm local time, with the destination listed as “N/A”. However some have noted another US Air Force C-40C had landed in Kuala Lumpur on the same day Pelosi was there, so it’s still uncertain which aircraft could be transporting the House Speaker.

Reuters further observes that “In addition to the military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on a nearly daily basis this year, two Chinese warships – a missile destroyer and guided-missile frigate – were also tracked in international waters off the coast of Lanyu Island in eastern Taiwan early Tuesday morning.” 

On Monday evening, Taiwan and US media sources said she’s expected to touch down at Taipei Songshan Airport at 10:20pm Tuesday night.

China’s foreign ministry has repeated that it’s prepared to respond to what it says is a blatant violation of its sovereignty and the One China principle with “forceful measures”. Some serious military hardware is meanwhile being maneuvered on the ground in nearby Fujian province, which sits just across from the self-ruled island.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater command appears to still be engaged in ‘live fire’ drills in a show of force.

Large military convoys have been seen traversing civilian streets in Fujian. It’s long been known that any serious Chinese military action threatening Taiwan would likely be staged from this portion of the mainland which sits most closely to Taiwan, just across the strait.

As for US Navy positioning, Reuters has separately reported

Four U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, were positioned in waters east of Taiwan on what the U.S. Navy called routine deployments on Tuesday amid Chinese anger over U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit the island.

 

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports emerging that the website of the Taiwan presidency has been subject to a cyberattack Tuesday, just as Pelosi’s plane appears to be en route.

The Chinese foreign minister has also just issued a fresh threat, saying Pelosi is playing “with fire” – repeating President Xi’s words last Thursday in his phone call with Biden – and says she risks the US becoming an enemy of “1.4 billion Chinese people” and thus “will not meet with a good end.”

developing…

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