US House Speaker Pelosi arrives in Taiwan
Despite Chinese warnings, US House Speaker Pelosi lands in Taiwan.
A US Air Force plane carrying US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed Tuesday in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, at 10:44 p.m. local time (14:44 GMT), according to a live video broadcast from the airport.
The significance of Pelosi's visit is that it comes at a time of great tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, and it would mark the first visit made by a US House Speaker to the Island since 1997.
Chinese Army Su-35 fighters heading for Taiwan Strait
Earlier, China Central Television (CCTV) reported that Su-35 fighter jets of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force headed toward the Taiwan Strait.
The aircraft were scrambled as an aircraft carrying US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was approaching Taiwan.
In the same context, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that five tanker planes and eight F15 fighter jets took off from the US military base Kadena in Japanese Okinawa after 20:00 (11:00 GMT).
According to the branch of the Japanese Defense Ministry in Okinawa, by Tuesday evening, 22 KC135 tanker aircraft arrived at this base from other bases.
Tankers are commonly used in fighter operations involving many hours of flight and can refuel other aircraft in the air. The accumulation of such a number of these aircraft at the Kadena base is unprecedented.
After 20:00, five tanker aircraft of this type and eight F15 fighters took off from the base. In addition, two hours earlier, a Lockheed EP-3 electronic reconnaissance aircraft, capable of collecting electronic information from military installations and military equipment, took off from the base.
Pelosi's visit comes despite warnings
Pelosi's visit to Taiwan comes despite warnings from China, as well as from US President Joe Biden's administration officials, who are concerned about Beijing's reaction.
Earlier, China warned that the US will "pay the price" if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan.
"The US side will bear the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China's sovereign security interests," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying stressed Tuesday at a regular press briefing.
Biden said in late July that the US military "thinks it's not a good idea right now, but I don't know what the status of it is."
The Chinese Ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, had said that the Taiwan issue is the most sensitive and important core issue in Sino-US relations.
Chinese National Defense Ministry Spokesperson Tan Kefei warned on July 26 that the Chinese military would not sit back if Pelosi visits Taiwan.
China: "People’s Liberation Army won’t sit back quietly"
In the same context, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday that "if Pelosi visits Taiwan, this will be a gross interference in China’s domestic policy [...] and will lead to very serious consequences."
"The Chinese People’s Liberation Army won’t sit back quietly and do nothing," he added.
According to Zhao, Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would trigger instability in the Taiwan Strait and severe China-US relations. "China will definitely take resolute and effective countermeasures," he stressed.
US military assets deployed ahead of Pelosi's visit
Nikkei Asia reported on Monday that the US has deployed naval and aerial military assets ahead of Pelosi's trek into Taiwan, as data for naval and aerial tracking shows that military ships and jets are being drawn closer to Taiwan.
The news agency added that the assets included the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was previously in Singapore, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli and the amphibious assault ship USS America, which were near Japan, as well as over 30 other warships, three submarines, and several fighter aircraft.
These sorties are not the first in light of Pelosi's visit, as the Chinese People's Liberation Army on Saturday held military drills with a firing exercise in Fujian, a province in the southeastern region of China, across the strait of Taiwan, according to the maritime administration of Pingtan county.